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INDIA UNDER 
CURZON &> AFTER 



THE WEB OF INDIAN LIFE 

By xMaroaret E. Noble (Sister Nivedita). 
Crown 8vo, price 3s. 6d. net. 

THE COMPLETE INDIAN HOUSE- 
KEEPER AND COOK 
By Flora Annie Steel and Grace 
Gardiner. Crown 8vo, price 6s. 

THROUGH ISLE AND EMPIRE 

By VicoMTE Robert d'Humieres. With a 
Preface by Rudyard Kipling. Crown 
8vo, price 6s. 

A HISTORY OF SANSKRIT LITERATURE 
By Arthur A. Macdonald. Large Crown 
Svo, price 6s, 
(Literatures of the World Series) 

London: WILLIAM HEINEMANN 
21 Bedford Street, W.C. 




:^y^y/ u^A.}/??!^ Yyyj /:y,^>eyt^y ^^r_y>^^Cca> . 



IJSTDIA UJN^DEE 
CURZON ^ AFTER 



BY LOVAT FRASER 




TO ME THE MESSAGE IS CARVED IN 

GRANITE, IT IS HEWN OUT OF THE 

ROCK OF DOOM THAT OUR WORK IS 

RIGHTEOUS AND THAT IT SHALL ENDURE 

iMrd Cvrson at Mansion House 
July 20, 1904 



LONDON 

WILLIAM HEINEMANN 



MCMXI 




1 4 1967 



.\^/ 



:e^ 



Copyright, London, 1911, by William Udnemann 



PREFACE 

This book was first planned in 1905, while Lord Curzon was 
still Viceroy of India. My original purpose, now much 
expanded, was to write an account of some of the more per- 
manent and enduring features of his Administration, which 
seemed likely to become obscured in the public mind through 
special causes. I was unable until last year to begin the 
task I had set myself, and even then was almost immediately 
stopped by more imperative duties. This summer it became 
evident that I must choose between rapid completion and 
indefinite postponement. The choice was not difficult, for 
the materials were collected, I knew my subject, and my 
views were already formed, although in some respects they 
have undergone revision. I decided to undertake the work 
at once, though time was pressing ; I was about to journey 
forth again ; and even as these words are being printed I 
shall be pursuing once more the familiar pathway to the 
East. 

It is necessary to say that Lord Curzon is in no sense 
responsible for this book. He did not suggest it, nor has 
he seen a line of it. It is in no respect a reflection of his 
opinions, and he has neither authorised nor inspired a single 
statement that it contains. Probably there are portions of 
it with which he will disagree. I have had no access to any 
private documents or correspondence. For any inaccuracies 
I am alone to blame. 

V b 



PREFACE 

If the narrative reveals a certain intimacy with events, 
the explanation is simple. I was in India during the whole 
of Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty. I saw him land, and saw him 
depart. During the greater part of the time I was Editor of 
The Times of India, and the Editor of an Indian newspaper 
has unusual opportunities for acquiring knowledge. I had 
many sources of information, generally unsolicited. I have 
visited many of the places mentioned, and have some 
acquaintance with other Asiatic countries. I knew per- 
sonally most of those who figure in these pages, both 
Englishmen and Indians, and some of them are my friends. 
Such knowledge of India as I possess did not begin with 
Lord Curzon's arrival, nor has it ended with his departure. 
I may add that I never met I^ord Curzon, save once for a 
few minutes at the Delhi Durbar, until long after he had 
left India, nor did I ever have any communication with him, 
directly or indirectly, upon public affairs during his Vice- 
royalty. The contrary has sometimes been alleged, but the 
suggestion is unfounded. 

I have noticed that in books of this description, dealing 
for the most part with contemporary politics, it is customary 
for the blushing author to appear for a moment upon the 
threshold, in order to avow that he has no intention of 
anticipating the verdict of history. I shall make no such 
superfluous declaration. This is simply a description of 
certain phases of British rule in India as I saw them ; my 
views are based upon actual experience, and what history 
may say is no concern of mine. I have tried to write 
neither history nor biogi-aphy, but rather the sketch of a 
period in which Lord Curzon was the central figure. In so 
far as the book partakes of the character of biography, I 
claim exemption from the admonition that it is inadvisable 

vi 



PREFACE 

to write a biography of a man still living. The Viceroyalty 
of India is an episode in a statesman's life which has no 
direct relation to the rest of his career. It may colour or 
sadden the whole of his remaining years, but as a piece of 
work it is finished for ever when he relinquishes office. 
The guns have hardly roared forth their final salute when 
the sculptor is busy upon the memorial statue. The 
verdict may be written, for India will see him no more. 
In such cases there are still reticences to be observed, 
and I trust I have not been unmindful of them ; but 
there can be no impropriety in examining the achieve- 
ments of a Viceroy of India six years after his Viceregal 
existence has ceased. 

I have endeavoured to be impartial, and know I have 
been sincere. I have not the slightest personal interest to 
serve. I occupied at the time, and still occupy, the position 
of a detached spectator. I believe the period I have 
described to have been a memorable epoch in the British 
control of India, and see no reason why it should be left to 
some one fifty years hence to say so. We are nowadays all 
so anxious to be thought "judicial" that we fear to praise 
great deeds worthily done before our eyes. Moreover, 
British rule in India may be subjected to severe tests long 
before fifty years are over, and my ultimate object has been 
to interest English and American readers in some of the 
Indian problems of to-day. 

I am advised to explain, with reference to an expression 
I have frequently used, that the Government of India are 
wont to announce their decisions to the public, and some- 
times to expound their policy, in the form of " Resolutions." 
I have occasionally made use of brief passages from articles 
which I have contributed to various newspapers and reviews, 

vii 



PREFACE 

but such extracts are so infrequent and fragmentary that 
they do not require specific acknowledgment. With regard 
to persons upon whom titles have been bestowed in the 
course of the events here narrated, I have sometimes referred 
to them by their new, and sometimes by their old designa- 
tions, as seemed convenient. I have used the expression 
" native states " and " native army " because I know of no 
suitable equivalent ; when I say " Anglo-Indians," I mean 
the class of Englishmen who have always borne, and always 
will bear, that designation, and not the estimable community 
to whom the Government now seek to apply it ; and in the 
spelling of Oriental place-names I have followed common 
practice without regard to rules which are never heeded 
outside a Government report. 

L. F. 

September 191I 



VIU 



CONTENTS 



PACE 



I. A GENERAL SURVEY 

I. INDIA IN THE NINETIES 1 

II. LORD CURZON'S PERIOD OF PREPARATION 7 
III. LORD CURZON'S WORK IN INDIA l6 

II. THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

I. THE TRIBAL COUNTRY 39 

II. CHITRAL 4* 

III. THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER PROVINCE 50 

IV. AFGHANISTAN 63 

III. PERSIA AND TIBET 

I. THE PERSIAN GULF 78 

II. SOUTHERN PERSIA AND SEISTAN 115 

III. TIBET 134 

IV. THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE i47 

V. THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL 

REFORM "m 

VL THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE 

STATES 201 

VII. THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 2+2 

ix 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 



VIII. PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

I. THE PROBLEM OF PLAGUE 263 

IL THE GREAT FAMINE 280 

in. IRRIGATION S96 

IX. COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 305 

X. FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 339 

XI. THE TWO BENGALS 365 

XII, ARMY REFORM AND LORD 
KITCHENER 

I. THE REORGANISATION OF THE ARMY 397 

II. THE MILITARY DEPARTMENT 415 

XIII. UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 454 

XIV. CONCLUSION 479 
INDEX 493 



X 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Facing 

page 

LORD CURZON AS VICEROY OF INDIA Fromupiect 

THE STATE ENTRY INTO DELHI 232 

THE LATE LADY CURZON 262 

THE LAST MOMENT: BOMBAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1905 448 



At end of Voluvxe 

MAP OF THE MIDDLE EAST, SHOWING NORTHERN INDIA, 
THE DIVISION OF BENGAL, THE NEW NORTH-WEST 
FRONTIER PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN, BALUCHISTAN, THE 
SPHERES OF INFLUENCE IN PERSIA, AND THE PERSIAN 
GULF 



XI 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

I. INDIA IN THE NINETIES 

In the closing years of the nineteenth century, vast changes 
were slowly beginning to manifest themselves in the Indian 
Empire. They were so imperceptible in growth that their 
full significance was only very gradually perceived. Save for 
the expansion of its trade and revenue, the development of 
its internal communications, the leisurely spread of education, 
and the occasional alteration of methods of administration, 
the condition of India did not, in the early nineties, seem 
to have undergone any marked modification. Within its 
frontiers there had been a prolonged period of unbroken 
peace. The Indian peoples were apparently more docile 
than ever, and they were certainly outwardly tranquil. The 
annual gatherings of the National Congress furnished a vent 
for the expression of eloquent aspirations on the part of a few 
ardent politicians, of whom not much was heard for the rest 
of the year. During the Viceroyalty of Lord Lansdowne, 
and in the earlier years of Lord Elgin's rule, the political 
atmosphere of India was on the whole essentially calm. Few 
foresaw that the time was approaching when the entire 
country would be disturbed by strife and unrest. Still less 
was it realised that at no distant date the validity of British 
rule would be directly challenged by a violent, if minute, 
section of the population. 

When Lord Elgin landed in India in 1894, there seemed 
no visible reason why the comfortable system of control then 

1 A 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

in vogue should not continue upon the same lines for a 
period measured by decades. The placid confidence every- 
where entertained was reflected in the work of the executive. 
It was efficient, as it has always been, and it was performed 
with that laborious devotion which has generally distinguished 
the servants of the Crown in India ; but it had become 
stereotyped, and it followed the appointed ways without 
much deviation or experiment. In the domain of civil and of 
military administration alike, there was a disposition to be 
content with existing conditions and methods, which 
rendered officers insusceptible to change, and somewhat 
intolerant of criticism. The favourite and consoling reflection 
was that as the country remained quiet and satisfied, it might 
reasonably be concluded that the machinery of control was 
in no need of examination or improvement. 

It would be easy, of course, to advance proofs in rebuttal 
of these broad generahsations. Lord Lytton's Vernacular 
Press Act of 1878, which had a brief existence of four years, 
was an indication that even in an era of notable tranquillity 
sedition in the native Press was neither unknown nor un- 
regarded. In 1879 there occurred near Poona a little revolt 
of Ramosis, or watchmen, who once formed a part of the 
Mahratta Army. The Age of Consent to Marriage Act, 
though passed in response to the appeals of many influential 
Indians, produced in 1891 an amount of disquietude which 
was secretly regarded by the authorities with considerable 
alarm. In the sphere of pohtical reform, the Act of 1892, 
which enlarged the Legislative Councils and increased the 
representation of Indians, marked an important response to 
the claim of the Congress for a larger voice in Indian legis- 
lation. But these, and many other incidental facts which 
might be quoted, do not materially disturb the contention 
that for forty years India had been comparatively quiescent. 

Yet throughout this period, and beneath the unruffled 
surface, new currents of thought were forming, and were 
steadily gaining momentum. The influence of Western 

2 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

education and of Western ideals was creating a fresh spirit 
of inquiry. Intellectual Indians became no longer willing 
to accept the solid fact of British control without question 
and without criticism. It is no answer to say, as M. Chailley 
has done, that the portion of the population which demands 
very large concessions is even now only two per cent, of the 
country generally. Great changes have almost mvariably 
originated from such small beginnings. When JMahomed 
rode forth to Medina he was accompanied only by his faithful 
disciple, Abu Bekr. The Japanese Revolution was really 
the work of a handful of men. There is reason to believe, 
moreover, that during this period in India the old instinctive 
habit of blind unquestioning obedience to the ruHng authority 
was gradually diminishing among the masses of the people, 
and even in the ranks of the Native Army. A contributory 
influence was that in the latter half of the nineteenth century 
India finally emerged from a partial isolation which had 
endured for centuries. The encircling sea, and the mighty 
barrier of the Himalayas, no longer served to shield her from 
the world without. They had never really kept her inviolate, 
for Indian history is one long recital of invasions; but the 
quickening of marine communications, and the increasing 
activity of European Powers in Asia, made India more than 
ever a prominent factor in international politics. A further 
cause of change was the grovidng attention paid by the British 
Parhament to Indian affairs. With the rise of the Imperial 
spirit in England, Parliamentary intervention ceased to be 
spasmodic and fitful. Interest in the welfare of India became 
constant, every administrative act of the Government of 
India was hable to be discussed or questioned in the House 
of Commons, and professional sympathisers with Indian 
aspirations began to exercise an influence in marked dispro- 
portion to their actual numbers. 

The effect of these changes first began to be seen during 
Lord Elgin's Viceroyalty, which by no means fulfilled its 
early promise of placidity. While Lord Elgin was in India, 

3 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

he had to confront severe visitations of famine and plague, 
and to conduct two frontier wars. The deUmitation of the 
Afghan frontier had made it necessary to estabhsh a Pohtical 
Agency in Chitral, and in 1895 a local rising was followed by 
the beleaguerment of the British Agent in the Chitral fort. 
He had to be rescued by a strong expedition, and when Lord 
Elgin left India the practical questions raised by the decision 
in favour of the continued occupation of Chitral were still 
undecided. In 1897 the Waziris rose, and the Tochi Valley 
was occupied by a British force. Then followed the attack 
of the Swat tribes upon the Malakand, the raid of the 
INIohmands upon villages near Peshawar, and the seizure of 
the Khyber Pass by the Afridis. In a few days the North- 
West Frontier was aflame from the Tochi to Buner, and it 
took 60,000 troops and a six months campaign to extinguish 
the conflagration. These events were not without their 
reflex influence upon the internal condition of India, for a 
frontier war invariably produces excitement in the city 
bazaars until the success of British arms is assured. They 
further brought forward the whole question of the future of 
British policy upon the frontier, which was left to Lord 
Elgin's successor to determine. 

The country had coincident troubles of the severest kind 
within its borders. It had entered upon that cycle of lean 
years which periodically recurs in India. The monsoon 
rains, upon which the fate of the people hangs, were deficient 
in 1895, and there was consequent privation and scarcity in 
many districts, amounting early in 1896 to famine within a 
hmited area. The almost complete failure of the monsoon of 
1896 plunged the heart of India into the most intense and 
severe famine ever then known under British rule. By the 
spring of 1897, over four milHon people were receiving relief, 
and the mortality was extremely heavy. The resultant 
distress was so widespread that the country had not really 
recovered when Lord Elgin departed. The year 1896 was 
of evil omen for India in another respect. During the early 

4, 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

autumn, the presence of bubonic plague was detected in the 
slums of the city of Bombay. By the end of the year it had 
definitely assumed epidemic form, and had been carried into 
the interior of the western Presidency. At the close of 1898, 
the recorded number of deaths from plague in India had 
reached a total of 173,000, which was probably considerably 
below the real mortality. There had been sporadic outbreaks 
in Bengal, the United Provinces, Madras, and elsewhere ; very 
serious epidemics had occurred in the states of Mysore and 
Hyderabad ; and the disease had made that first appearance 
in the Punjab which was afterwards to have such terrible 
consequences. 

Discontent in an Oriental population is not necessarily 
produced by privation and pestilence. Witness Egypt, 
where the very growth of prosperity has induced the people 
to kick as they waxed fat. Yet it has been generally found 
in India that great visitations of misfortune have not un- 
naturally produced among the ignorant masses a ferment of 
unrest, of which subtle agitators have been quick to take 
advantage. So it was when famine and plague began to 
decimate the people upon this occasion. Sedition grew rife 
among the baser vernacular journals. The preventive 
measures against plague instituted by the Bombay Govern- 
ment were deeply resented in Westen India. Poona, always 
a place of turbulent inclinations, simmered with angry 
disapproval of the peremptory house-to-house search for 
concealed sufferers from plague. On the night of the cele- 
bration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, the Assistant 
Collector of Poona, Mr. Rand, was shot, together with a 
companion, Lieutenant Ayerst. The murderer, one 
Damodher Chapekar, was subsequently executed. At the 
time the murders were popularly ascribed to blind vengeance 
for the plague policy of the authorities ; but it was suspected 
then, and is certain now, that they marked the inception of 
that conspiracy for the overthrow of British rule in India 
which has since been brought to light. 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

The deportation of the Natu brothers, prominent sirdars 
of the Deccan, and the first trial and sentence of Mr. Bal 
Gangadhar Tilak on a charge of inciting to disaffection in 
his newspaper, the Kesari, were other episodes which 
immediately followed. In 1898 the section of the Penal 
Code relating to seditious wiiting in the Press was amended, 
and the provisions of the law w^ere otherwise amplified ; but 
the new laws did httle to check the growth of sedition, 
because they were rarely put into operation. It has been a 
peculiarity of successive Governments of India in recent 
years that they have repeatedly armed themselves with 
powers which they have been reluctant to use. They seem 
to have thought that the mere passing of an Act, without 
attempting to utilise its provisions, was sufficient to prevent 
seditious crime. Meanwhile the tone of the vernacular 
Press steadily grew more violent, though its excesses were 
mild compared to the inflammatory heights afterwards 
attained. There can be no doubt that the passages for 
which I\Ir. Tilak was first imprisoned w^ere comparatively so 
innocuous that no jury would now comdct him for them. 

It will be gathered that the task which lay before Lord 
Elgin's successor was no Ught one. He had to settle the 
future control of the North- West Frontier, where the echoes 
of conflict had hardly died away. He had to decide what 
was to be done with Chitral. He had to supervise the 
measures for checking the spread of the plague, a disease 
which baffled medical science, while the rooted opposition 
of the people to interference with their daily habits rendered 
effective preventive measures almost impossible. He had 
to take over the administration of a country still suffering 
from the ravages of famine, though abundant harvests and 
an mcreasing revenue had shown its wonderful recuperative 
power. He had to maintain a silent vigilance towards 
those concerted efforts to sap the strength of British rule in 
India, the true significance of which wasc-stiU only just 
begmuing to be perceived. Above aU, he had to undertake 

6 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

the supremely important task of overhauling the adminis- 
trative machinery of the Indian Empire. There was urgent 
need to bring prescriptive methods into closer relation with 
the changing requirements of the time. With India awake 
and interrogative, the process of administrative improvement 
could no longer be delayed. 

■■*• 
II. LORD CURZON'S PERIOD OF PREPARATION 

The appointment of Mr. George Nathaniel Curzon to 
be the next Viceroy and Governor- General of India was 
announced on August 11, 1898, although he did not land 
at Bombay until December 30. In the meantime, though 
already heir to the barony of Scarsdale, he had been created 
Baron Curzon of Kedleston, in the peerage of Ireland. 
Lord Curzon was in his thirty-ninth year, and was the 
youngest Viceroy who had ever been appointed, with the 
single exception of Lord Dalhousie, who became Viceroy at 
thirty-six. It was a significant fact that he was, further, the 
only Viceroy of India, save Lord Lawrence, who possessed 
any personal knowledge of the country before his appoint- 
ment. He did not, like one of his predecessors, arrive with 
no other preparation for his vast task than a hasty perusal of 
Hunter's " Brief History of the Indian Peoples." For many 
years the dream of his life had been to govern India. A 
perfectly true story is told of his first visit to Calcutta, in 
December 1887, when he was still a young member of 
Parliament, very little known outside the circle of his Eton 
and Oxford friends. He stayed in the then not too luxurious 
quarters of the Great Eastern Hotel, opposite Government 
House. By a prophetic coincidence, the residence of the 
Viceroy in Calcutta was copied, with certain additions, from 
his father's ancestral mansion, Kedleston Hall, in Derbyshire. 
One day he lunched at Government House with Lord 
DufFerin. Afterwards, as he was walking back to his hotel, 
he halted outside the great gates, looked back at the stately 

7 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

building so reminiscent of the scenes of his boyhood, and 
said: "The next time I enter those gates it shall be as 
Viceroy." Lord Curzon has rarely made a determination 
which has not been fulfilled. Exactly eleven years later 
his aspiration was accomplished. He had always told his 
friends that he would be Viceroy if he could be appointed 
before he was forty. He assumed office on January 6, 
1899, five days before his fortieth birthday : and when he 
then gazed upon India it was, like Childe Roland, with the 
consciousness of " a life spent training for the sight." 

Lord Curzon's intense preoccupation in questions affecting 
the welfare of India and its peoples, and his exalted con- 
ception of the functions and responsibilities of a Viceroy, 
are the real clues to many aspects of his administration, 
the nature of which are still misunderstood. From his earliest 
youth the thought of India " haunted him like a passion." 
He has himself said that while he was at Eton a sense of the 
overwhelming importance of India first dawned upon his 
mind, as he listened to Sir James Fitz James Stephen telHng 
the Literary Society that there was in the Asian continent 
" an empire more populous, more beneficent, and more 
amazing than that of Rome." Ever since that day he has 
remained under the spell of that glamour of the East which 
draws all men onward ; and he has never ceased, and never 
will cease, to be absorbed by its engrossing and ennobling 
problems. At the dinner given him by Old Etonians upon 
his appointment he told his hosts that he had gladly accepted 
office because he loved India, " its people, its history, its 
government, the absorbing mysteries of its civihsation and 
its life." From his schooldays, he said, " the fascination 
and, if I may say so, the sacredness of India have grown 
upon me, until I have come to think that it is the highest 
honour that can be placed upon any subject of the Queen 
that in any capacity, high or low, he should devote such 
energies as he may possess to its service." He did not, 
however, make the mistake of supposing that he went forth 

8 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

to his task with little to learn. None knew better that, in 
his own words, "the East is a University in which the 
scholar never takes a degree." 

But Lord Curzon's interest in the East did not stop short 
upon the confines of India. When he was appointed Viceroy, 
he had seen more of Asia, and studied more closely [its 
history and its existing conditions, than most men living. 
The common and confessed weakness of the majority of 
Europeans in the East is that their horizons are limited, 
generally, it must be added, from sheer necessity. This fact 
is especially true of China, where most Europeans know 
little, and care less, about India or Persia. The same charge 
applies in a somewhat lesser degree to Anglo-Indians ; and 
it is even noticeable in India how special knowledge of one 
province usually colours quite unduly the Anglo-Indian 
conception of India as a whole. The problems of the oldest 
of continents are infinitely varied, but the broad principles 
which underlie them are everywhere very much the same. 
They should not be, and cannot be, wholly severed and con- 
sidered apart. The outward tide of European domination, 
though now receding, has in all parts of Asia had similar 
characteristics. The impact of Western civilisation has in 
all Asiatic countries produced the same essential results. 
Fully to understand and appreciate the great w^orld-move- 
ments now at work in Asia requires knowledge of more than 
one Asiatic race. The physical barriers which divide India 
from China may impress the imagination, but they do not 
alter the fact that the issues now confronting the West are 
elementally the same in the valleys of the Ganges and the 
Yang-tse. 

Lord Curzon, when first he entered public life, was 
amply conscious that though India was " the political pillar 
of the Asiatic continent," the diversified problems of Asia 
were indissolubly connected. He set himself the huge 
undertaking of visiting in turn every Asiatic country, and of 
writing books about them. He took as his exemplar the 

9 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

late Sir Henry Rawlinson, the decipherer of the cuneiform 
inscriptions upon the great rock of Behistun in Persia, who in 
later years he spoke of as one who was " great as an explorer, 
great as a scholar, great as a writer, and great as a man of 
affairs, and who left an indehble mark upon the relations of 
Great Britain with the Asiatic continent." His special 
object, he told the Central Asian Society in 1908 in a remi- 
niscent mood, was to determine the part that the Asiatic 
countries and peoples play in the poHtical system of Asia, 
and " to endeavour to make some forecast of the part that is 
capable of being played in the future by them." He duly 
completed his travels, but only a portion of the projected 
books ever saw the light. The Fates willed otherwise. It 
is worth noting that he never intended to write a book upon 
India. He meant that book to be inscribed by others upon 
the pages of Indian history. 

He first set foot in Asia during a journey round the 
world undertaken in 1887-88. After travelling through 
Canada and the United States mth Dr. Welldon as far as 
the Yosemite Valley, he went on alone to Japan, and from 
Yokohama visited the principal Japanese cities. He then 
made his way by the China coast to Ceylon, landing in 
India at Tuticorin in November 1887. His wanderings in 
India upon this occasion lasted between four and five 
months, and ranged from JNIadura to Darjeeling, and from 
Calcutta to the Khyber ; and they included such places as 
Mooltan and Shikarpur, outside the usual route of travellers. 

In the month of August 1888 he started from London 
again, and accompanied a party of travellers which journeyed 
over the Transcaspian Railway (then newly completed to 
Samarkand), in response to a cordial invitation from the 
Russian Government. From Samarkand he proceeded by 
road to Tashkent in that exceedingly uncomfortable vehicle, 
a tarantaas. The distance was 190 miles each way, and it took 
him thirty hours on the outward journey, and thirty-six hours 
on the return. The fruits of this expedition were recorded in 

10 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

the following year in "Russia in Central Asia in 1889," his 
first important book. 

The Central Asian journey lasted until November, but 
in August 1889 Lord Curzon set out once more, this time 
upon the best-known and in some respects the most laborious 
of his enterprises of travel. Traversing part of the Trans- 
caspian Railway, he entered Persia from Askabad, and in 
the ensuing six months visited most of the accessible parts 
of the country except the Bakhtiari region. He was the 
most indefatigable of travellers, the most indomitable of 
sightseers. When on the road he would ride seventy or 
eighty miles in a day, often cooking his own food, and 
sleeping at the roughest caravanserais. He explored 
Teheran and Ispahan with toilsome care, and his examina- 
tion of the ruins of Persepolis was performed with the 
minute enthusiasm of the trained arch^ologist. He even 
found time to cross into Asiatic Turkey and visit Baghdad, 
and the sacred city of Kerbela; he ascended the Karun 
River, then coming into prominence as a trade route ; and 
he inspected the ports of the Persian Gulf, with which his 
name was afterwards to be intimately associated. He finally 
reached India in February 1890, and sailed to England from 
Bombay. The monumental work upon Persia, which 
described these travels, was the outcome. It involved an 
infinite amount of research, and was the product of three 
years' incessant toil. Lord Curzon had in the meantime 
become Under-Secretary of State for India in 1891, but all 
his spare time was devoted to the book upon which his 
literary reputation still chiefly rests. The volumes had an 
instant success, and are now almost unprocurable. The 
book will never be rewritten, though materials for revision 
were collected ; but though the rapid changes in Persia have 
rendered it in some respects obsolete, it still remains a 
masterly presentment of the condition of Persia at the time 
it was compiled. 

In the summer of 1892 the Persian book was completed, 

11 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

and the success of Mr. Gladstone at the polls had deprived 
Lord Curzon of office. He fared forth again to the Far 
East by way of Canada, and visited in turn Japan, Korea, 
and China. In Korea he rode, by a circuitous route then 
almost unknown to Europeans, from Gensan through the 
Diamond Mountains to Seoul. Then he went to Indo- 
China, and travelled to Tongking, Annam, Cochin-China, 
Cambodia, and Siam. He journeyed overland from Hanoi, 
in Tongking, to Northern Annam ; and while in Siam he 
spent some days at Angkor- Wat, on the shores of the Great 
Lake, where he examined the ruins of the vast and stately 
temple with the meticulous care he had taken at Persepolis. 

It had been Lord Curzon's intention to publish two 
volumes upon this journey. They were not to be books 
of travel, so much as attempts " to examine, in a compara- 
tive light, the political, social, and economic conditions of 
the kingdoms and principalities of the Far East." He had 
begun to realise, as he peered deeper into the mystery of 
Asia, that " the true fulcrum of Asiatic dominion " lay 
increasingly in the Empire of Hindustan ; and it was to 
emphasise that vital principle that his efforts were hence- 
forth devoted. He saw, he said, that "the secret of the 
mastery of the world is, if only they knew it, in the posses- 
sion of the British people." 

The first part of this section of his scheme of book- 
making, that dealing with Japan, Korea, and China, was 
pubhshed in 1894, under the title of "Problems of the Far 
East." The book accurately defined the growth of the 
power of Japan, and presaged the fate of Korea ; but it may 
be said in passing that it did not handle in entirely con- 
vincing fashion the problem of the destiny of China. It 
implied a possible extension of European domination in 
China which must now be recognised as untenable; and 
while it expounded with force the fact that China is now 
essentially unaggressive, it failed to lay sufficient stress on 
the far more important point that the real Yellow Peril is 

12 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

industrial. The second part of the project, dealing with 
Indo- China, was partly written, but never published. A 
few fragments lie embedded in the files of the Times. 

In August 1894, Lord Curzon turned his face yet once 
more towards the morning light of the East. Landing in 
Bombay in that month, he paid flying visits to Simla and 
Rawal Pindi, and then marched northwards through Kashmir 
to the high Pamirs, to which, by the way, he denies the 
title of the " Roof of the World." Though his main object 
was political study, he had also in view sport and explora- 
tion. He shot Ovu Poll, and he settled the then unsolved 
problem of the source of the Oxus, which he proved to rise 
in a huge glacier at the eastern end of the Wakhan Pamir. 
Never before had a British politician of the front rank 
figured as an explorer, and the Gold Medal of the Royal 
Geographical Society, wliich was afterwards awarded to 
Lord Curzon for his achievement, is more prized than most 
of his honours. He visited the tiny mountain states of 
Hunza and Nagar, and on his way back went to Chitral, 
thus acquiring on the spot a fund of information which 
proved of the utmost value when Chitral shortly afterwards 
became a subject of controversy in Parliament. He learned 
by actual contact the bearings of a complicated frontier 
problem which it fell to his lot ultimately to settle when he 
became Viceroy. 

By November he was back in India, and on his way 
to Kabul in response to an invitation from the late Amir 
Abdur Rahman. He stayed a fortnight at the Afghan 
capital, and had repeated and prolonged interviews with the 
Amir. In his memoirs, Abdur Rahman has stated that 
he discussed with Lord Curzon all the important affairs of 
his Government, and especially the questions of the frontier 
and of his successor. Lord Curzon also made the intimate 
acquaintance of Habibullah, the present Amir, and of his 
brother, Nasrullah Khan. Afterwards he rode nearly 400 
miles through Afghanistan, from Kabul to Kandahar, by 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the route which Lord Roberts made famous, and thence 
to the British frontier outpost in Baluchistan. In those 
days he sometimes travelled like a whirlwind. He rode 
from Kabul to Kandahar in eleven days ; and between the 
Pamirs and Afghanistan he covered nearly 1800 miles on 
horseback and on foot, over some of the most difficult 
country in the world. He had, however, the advantage of 
special arrangements everywhere. 

By his investigations in Afghanistan Lord Curzon gained 
an invaluable insight into Afghan character and Afghan 
conditions, failure to understand which has in the past more 
than once led to results disastrous to British prestige. But 
the information he acquired was, from reasons of State, 
never imparted to the public. He had projected three books 
upon the regions which he traversed in part during the six 
months from August 1894 to January 1895. Two were to 
be upon the Indian frontier, and the third upon Afghanistan. 
The first of the frontier books, dealing with the section of 
the frontier from Hunza on the north-east to the Dir-Chitral 
road on the south-west, was written, sold to a publisher, 
illustrated, and actually printed, when Lord Curzon was 
suddenly appointed Viceroy of India. Lord Salisbury said 
that no Viceroy ought to write a book, a dictum which 
might also be applied to British generals and admirals on 
the active list. The book was therefore suppressed for the 
period of Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty ; it has never since been 
issued, and it is now to some extent out of date. 

The second volume, which was to have dealt with the 
southern section of the Indian frontier, was never written. In 
any case it would probably have involved a separate journey. 
The third book was to have dealt with Afghanistan upon 
the same elaborate and comprehensive scale as the Persian 
volume. All the materials were collected, but the work has 
never been commenced. Lord Curzon has, however, hinted 
in a pubhc speech that he still hopes to find sufficient leisure 
to write " a sustained, succinct, and scientific history " of 

14 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

Afghanistan and its relations with Great Britain. Mean- 
while, the only published records of his expeditions during 
1894-95 are his scholarly monograph on " The Pamirs and 
the Source of the Oxus," which is purely geographical ; and 
the paper on " A Recent Journey in Afghanistan," read 
before the Royal Institution in May 1895, which is more 
intimate but necessarily brief. 

The ride through the wilds of Afghanistan was the last 
of Lord Curzon's journeys in Asia in his private capacity. 
Soon after his return he crossed the Atlantic and married 
at Washington on April 22, 1895, Miss JNIary Victoria 
Leiter, the lady who was thenceforth for eleven years his 
devoted helper. President Cleveland and Mr. Theodore 
Roosevelt were present at the ceremony. The defeat of 
Lord Rosebery's Administration on a motion by Mr. St. 
John Brodrick concerning the inadequate supply of cordite 
ammunition brought Lord Salisbury once more into power 
in June. Lord Curzon became Under-Secretary for Foreign 
Affairs, and in the next three years consolidated the brilhant 
Parliamentary reputation he had already gained. It was 
said of him that at that period he was easily the most con- 
siderable man in the House of Commons next to Mr. Balfour. 
Circumstances favoured him. He had to lead in Foreign 
Affairs in the Lower House during a period of exceptional 
unrest in international politics. Those years witnessed 
President Cleveland's minatory ^lessage on Venezuela, the 
Armenian massacres in Asia JNIinor, the war between Turkey 
and Greece, the reappearance of the Cretan question, the 
Spanish- American war, the German seizure of Kiao-chau, 
the Russian lease of Port Arthur, the Anglo-French Con- 
vention concerning West Africa, and the reversal of the 
decision of the Rosebery Cabinet to withdraw from Chitral. 
Not only was Lord Curzon powerful and combative in 
debate, but he seemed to take a positive delight in parrying 
at question time those inquisitive interrogations which 
cause some Ministers to lose their tempers. His future in 

15 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Parliament was so assured that the announcement in 1899 
of his acceptance of the Viceroyalty of India was at first 
received with some increduUty. Those who knew him best, 
however, never doubted it. The opportunity of which he had 
long dreamed in secret had come at last. The appointment 
was received by the public, and by the home and the Indian 
Press alike, with a cordiality in which there was scarcely a 
jarring note. Rarely has a Viceroy-elect set sail for India 
amid such a profusion of good wishes, or followed by such 
a general expectation of success. 

III. LORD CURZON'S WORK IN INDIA 

Lord Curzon, as has been shown, embarked wrth an 
equipment for his task such as few Viceroys have possessed. 
He had spent nearly two years at the India Office and three 
years at the Foreign Office. He had visited India four 
times, and had travelled widely within its borders. He 
knew at first hand the North- W^est Frontier, always an 
object of deep anxiety. He had a close personal acquaint- 
ance with the other countries of Asia, and had studied and 
pondered the problems they presented. He had met a 
singular variety of Asiatic rulers, including such diverse 
potentates as the Shah of Persia, the Amir of Afghanistan, 
the King of Korea, the King of Siam (with whom he 
frequently corresponded), the Emperor of Annam, and the 
King of Cambodia. Among administrators of lesser rank 
may be mentioned Li Hung Chang, with whom he was upon 
terms of considerable intimacy. This preHminary experi- 
ence of intercourse with Asiatics of exalted position was 
of great value in his new office, which brought him into 
constant contact with the princes and chiefs of India. To 
maintain cordial relations with the ruling princes, to gain 
their confidence, and to enjoy their esteem, is perhaps the 
most difficult and delicate of the duties of a Viceroy. That 
Lord Curzon, hke nearly all his predecessors, could not 

16 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

speak any Indian language, was no real disadvantage. 
Nowadays some of the most prominent of the younger 
princes speak excellent English. With those who know no 
tongue but their own, it is better to converse through an 
interpreter than to stumble along in halting Hindustani. 
Lord Curzon on one occasion even expressed the opinion 
that in prolonged interviews with an Oriental potentate, he 
regarded it as "of great service not to be too closely 
acquainted with the language of the country." The use of 
a competent and faithful interpreter, he said, prevented 
betrayal into blunders, and gave opportunity for reflection 
and the consideration of replies. 

Some critics, whose views are at least entitled to respect, 
have argued that the long list of Lord Curzon's special quali- 
fications constituted an excellent reason for not appointing 
him. Reduced to a simple formula, their contention is that 
the less a Viceroy-elect knows about India the better ruler he 
will make, provided he has an open mind and a balanced 
sense of judgment. The proposition hardly bears serious 
examination, but it is typical of a certain school of British 
thought. No one maintains that a man would be a better 
admiral, or a better general, or a better surgeon, if he was 
entirely without training or special knowledge ; but the task 
of steering the Government of India through the vast and 
complex issues which constantly beset it is supposed by 
these publicists to be best accomplished by an unprepared 
man with a cross-bench mind. 

India cannot be properly governed upon such theories in 
these stormy days. The now classic instance of Lord 
Dalhousie is a case apart ; and the administration of India 
is far more of a labyrinthine business than it was in Dalhousie's 
day. It is a mistake to think of a Viceroy as a judicial 
referee, surrounded by men necessarily far more competent 
than himself. A good Viceroy will initiate, as well as adjudge. 
The Indian Civil Service is the best service in the Empire, 
but its ultimate effect upon its members is to kill initiative - 

17 B 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

in all save the men of very strong individuality, who rarely 
rise to the highest place. The head of the Government 
must not only decide ; he should also, on occasion, lead and 
direct ; and a Viceroy who realises that his office is some- 
thing more than a court of appeal, therefore starts with a 
very long advantage if he has made, as Lord Curzon had 
done, a serious and detailed study of Indian questions. 

The record of Lord Curzon's work during his seven years 
in India covers such a multifarious variety of subjects that it 
is not easy to present an adequate picture of the volume of 
his labours. He had from the outset a clear-cut conception 
of much that he meant to do. In his first Budget speech, 
in March 1899, he referred to a category of twelve 
important questions, " all of them waiting to be taken 
up, all of them questions which ought to have been taken 
up long ago, and to which, as soon as I have the time, I 
propose to devote myself." The nature of these questions 
was only gradually disclosed. Later he formulated another 
series of twelve projected reforms, and in 1905 he was able 
to say that both series were complete. In that year, in the 
course of what proved to be his final Budget speech, he 
indicated a third series of twelve reforms then in process of 
accomplishment ; but if minor but not unimportant reforms 
are also included, the third series alone really extended to 
two dozen projects, most of which were set on foot, and 
many of them carried to completion. The most conspicuous 
omission from the programme Lord Curzon set himself was 
his failure to deal with the question of the union or separation 
of judicial and executive functions. He said in Calcutta 
in 1903 that he hoped to come to some decision upon it. 
Lack of time and the premature termination of his Vice- 
royalty alone prevented him. 

If I were asked to name the four principal achievements 
of Lord Curzon in India which were of a constructive and 
permanent character, I would select the partition of Bengal, 
the solution of the problem of the North- West Frontier, the 

18 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

reform of the system of education, and the formulation of a 
land revenue policy which was clear, consistent, and con- 
siderate. 

I unhesitatingly place the partition of Bengal first, 
because I believe it to have been fraught with the largest 
and most tangible benefit to many millions of people. The 
systematic neglect of the vast trans-Gangetic areas of 
Bengal was the greatest blot upon our administration of 
India. Crime was rife, the peasantry were crushed beneath 
the exactions of absentee landlords, the police system was 
feeble, education a mere shadow, and internal communi- 
cations disgracefully inadequate. The old Bengal Govern- 
ment was engrossed with Calcutta and the districts near its 
headquarters. Eastern Bengal was less known, and less 
thought of, than the Punjab and the frontier. A single 
district with an area of 6000 square miles and a population 
of four millions was sometimes left in charge of a solitary 
English officer. The division of Bengal formed no part of 
Lord Curzon's original programme, because at first he shared 
the prevalent ignorance of the deplorable condition of the 
remoter portion of the province. He really drifted into the 
project by accident, and, as will be shown, largely without 
the elaborate premeditation which usually marked his 
reforms ; but by it he will probably be best remembered, 
and, as all impartial persons who have seen the new province 
believe, ultimately blessed. 

When Lord Curzon went to India, we had no frontier 
policy save that of alternate vengeance and inaction. We had 
spent crores of rupees on futile expeditions. In the four 
years before his arrival five millions sterling was expended 
on frontier wars. He formulated definite principles to take 
the place of the old muddled methods. He withdrew 
British forces from perilous advanced positions ; he made 
the tribesmen responsible for the defence of tribal country, 
and he concentrated British forces in British territory behind 
them as " a safeguard and a support." He devised a scheme 

19 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

for the retention of Cliitral which maintained our hold upon 
that important territory with a minimum of risk. Time 
amply justified his prescience. In seven years he only spent 
a quarter of a million sterling upon repressive measures, 
and only found it necessary to institute one blockade against 
a refractory tribe. Finality is never reached upon the 
frontier, and there has been one minor expedition since his 
departure ; but the quietude which prevailed throughout 
the rest of the frontier during the brief rising among the 
Mohmands and the Zakka Khel is the best proof of the 
solid results of his work. 

The educational reforms of Lord Curzon are in some 
respects the most strongly marked feature of his Viceroyalty. 
His excessive labours during the preliminary conference of 
experts at Simla produced the first signs of that failure of 
health from which he never completely rallied ; and his 
legislation for the reform of the Indian Universities aroused 
a storm of hostile criticism among certain sections of the 
educated classes, and earned him their animosity during the 
remainder of his term of office. Opposition did not daunt 
his determination to cleanse and improve every section of 
the educational system — University, higher, secondary, 
technical, and elementary. He introduced order where 
there was chaos ; he purged the Universities of their obsolete 
and inefficient methods of control, and he gave a permanent 
impetus to the spread of primary education. It is scarcely 
realised that when he went to India four out of every five 
villages were without a school, and three out of every four 
\ Indian boys grew up without any education at all. Primary 
I education in India is even now still in its infancy, and the 
I Universities are only slowly working out their own salva- 
i \ tion ; but Lord Curzon rescued Indian education from the 
I Wough into which it had sunk, and placed it at last upon the 
right path. 

His land revenue policy is less visible in a concrete form, 
but its effects were far more universal than any other branch 

20 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

of his work. Its importance is quite unrealised in England. 
The land question lies at the back of every other Indian 
question. Nine-tenths of the whole population is rural ; 
and it has been estimated that nine-tenths of the rural 
population is dependent, directly or indirectly, upon agri- 
culture. Problems concerning Indian land tenure and 
settlement, revenue assessment and collection, are commonly 
regarded as repellent. They are not so in fact, for they 
present fascinating aspects. No other problems touch the 
life of the people so nearly. To understand them, even in a 
superficial degree, is to begin to understand India. Views 
about India which do not include in their foundations some 
comprehension of questions affecting the land are for the 
most part comparatively worthless. 

Legislation about land is unceasing in India, but at the 
period under consideration it had ceased to be co-ordinated 
and guided by a broad general policy. There can be no 
doubt, moreover, that revenue administration had tended to 
become mechanical. Land revenue assessments were not as 
a rule unduly heavy ; taking the country as a whole, they 
were comparatively light ; but it may be admitted now that 
the spirit in which they were collected was too often harsh 
and inflexible. There were even cases, though these were 
not numerous, where the cultivators were assessed in 
appreciable excess of their ability to pay in years of scarcity. 
The local governments thought more about getting in their 
money than about the condition of the people ; the central 
government were too preoccupied to plunge into land revenue 
mysteries. Agitators, in England and in India, arose to 
make the wildest and most indefensible statements concern- 
ing the land system. The authorities either ignored the 
charges levelled against them, or made highly technical and 
wholly inadequate replies. 

Lord Curzon early turned his attention to land admini- 
stration. At his instance the methods and character of 



revenue collection in the various provinces were closely/ 

21 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

scrutinised. He laid down the broad principles which should 
guide the local governments in their land policy. He 
ensured reasonable leniency in assessment, and enforced a 
system of suspensions and remissions which introduced far 
greater elasticity into revenue collection in times of scarcity. 
He saved the bulk of the sturdy cultivators of the Punjab 
from the evil effects of the wholesale alienation of their 
land, which was reducing them to beggary ; and in doing so 
he went over the heads of the local government with a 
courage which experience has fully vindicated. He sought 
to prevent the growth of agricultural indebtedness by 
initiating a system of co-operative credit societies which, 
though still only emerging from the experimental stage, is 
probably destined to help in large degree in removing the 
millstone of hopeless debt from the neck of the ryot. 
Finally, in the famous Resolution of the Government of 
India on land revenue policy, penned by his own hand, he 
administered such an overwhelming blow to the critics who 
declared that the British were inflicting intolerable burdens 
upon the people, that they have remained for the most part 
crushed and silent ever since. Lord Curzon's land revenue 
policy is one of the brightest features of his Viceroyalty. It 
tended to ameliorate the lot of myriads of people, and it has 
never been seriously assailed. 

I have dealt at some length with the four great questions, 
the settlement of which seems to me to be the most notable 
result of Lord Curzon's rule. To these I would add, as of 
equal importance, the services he rendered in strengthening 
the ties which unite India to the British Crown. England 
has never properly perceived that the link which chiefly 
binds India to the Empire is not the Government of India, 
or Parliament, or the consciousness of British citizenship, 
but a deep and sincere veneration for the Monarchy. Para- 
doxical though it may sound, such veneration often exists in 
conjunction with the bitterest opposition to the constituted 
authorities. To the Indian mind the Viceroy is a *' fleeting 

22 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

eidolon," the Government a vague abstraction ; but the 
King-Emperor, whose image is stamped upon every rupee, 
remains a remote, but a Hving and real and abiding arbiter 
of their destinies. Their thoughts turn to him as the dis- 
penser of benevolence, the remover of burdens, and the 
fountain of honour. They are perplexed by no doubts 
about the logic of hereditary rule. Respect for the hereditary 
principle has been from time immemorial a part of their 
very nature. It is inconceivable that a Republic could ever 
acquire, still less maintain, a hold upon India. The imagina- 
tion of the people demands gratification. They crave, and 
will always crave, a personal ruler. 

It fell to Lord Curzon's lot to be associated, to an extent 
for which there is no precedent, with occurrences and cere- 
monies which brought home vividly to the people the reality 
of the INlonarchy. He had to convey to India the news of 
the death of the late Queen-Empress Victoria, which was 
received with universal grief. The sincerity of the mourning 
will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. He con- 
ceived and set in motion the movement for the creation of 
a great Victoria IMemorial in Calcutta, towards which he 
raised a sum of £400,000. He organised and directed the 
vast Durbar held at Delhi to announce the accession of King 
Edward, the most brilliant and inspiring assemblage of the 
kind ever witnessed in Asia. He lost no opportunity of 
impressing upon India the deep and constant concern with 
which His JNIajesty and his revered predecessor regarded the 
welfare of their Indian subjects. Finally, it became his 
duty, on the eve of his departure from India, to welcome to 
its shores, with fitting state, the Prince and Princess of 
Wales. These successive episodes were no mere glittering 
formalities. They were conducted with a fervour and a 
solemn stateliness entirely in keeping with India's concep- 
tion of the majesty of its distant ruler ; they reminded the 
people that India was at last united under a single sovereign ; 
and in the East such solemnities leave a more permanent 

23 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

and possibly a more valuable impression than many acts of 

legislation. 

In the second group of Lord Curzon's labours in India 
may be placed his work for the improvement of agriculture, 
his development and consohdation of British influence in 
the Persian Gulf and Southern Persia, his commercial policy, 
and his vigorous overhauling of the whole of the depart- 
ments of the Administration. These questions must be 
dealt with more briefly. 

I allot a high place to his incessant care for agricultural 
advancement, because agriculture is, and must ever be, 
immeasurably the greatest of Indian industries. The ryot 
will never become a scientific agriculturist, but he is not 
insusceptible to improved methods, and Indian agriculture 
is not exempt from the general rule that intelligent and 
scientific farming pays best. Lord Curzon gave a very real 
impetus to agriculture. He created an Imperial Agricul- 
^ tural Department, in charge of an Inspector-General; he 
expanded and improved the Agricultural Service, brought 
out many experts from Europe, and encouraged the estab- 
lishment of experimental farms ; he tried, not without some 
success, to improve the staple of Indian cotton, and he 
endeavoured to improve the breeds of Indian cattle. One 
night J\Ir. Phipps, an American millionaire, was dining with 
him at Calcutta. Mr. Phipps said to him : " I have been 
travelling about India, and everywhere I have heard of you 
and your work. I believe in both. I will give you £20,000, 
to do whatever you like with it for the good of the people." 
This sum was afterwards increased by Mr. Phipps to £30,000, 
and with it Lord Curzon founded the Phipps Research 
Laboratory which was the nucleus of the Agricultural 
College at Pusa. On the day that the foundation stone 
was laid. Sir Denzil Ibbetson reminded his hearers of the 
estimate that the annual crops of British India alone are 
worth £345,000,000. If agricultural research only in- 
creases their value one per cent., a sum of nearly 

24 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

£3,500,000 will be added to the annual income of the Indian 
cultivator. 

In Southern Persia and the Persian Gulf Lord Curzon 
restored and developed the waning prestige of Great Britain, 
and demonstrated the determination of the Government not 
to permit any violation of the preferential position which 
Great Britain has acquired in that great land-locked sea 
after keeping the peace for three hundred years at a heavy cost 
in blood and treasure. He brushed aside the absurd in- 
tolerance with which, for many decades, officialism had 
regarded business men in India. By the formation of a 
Department of Commerce and Industry, by new rules for 
prospecting for and working minerals, by facilitating the 
establishment of a vast iron and steel industry, by many 
other reforms and innovations, he revolutionised the rela- 
tions between the Government and the leaders of com- 
mercial enterprises. As to the overhauling of machinery, 
he was able to say to his colleagues on finally leaving Simla 
that there was " scarcely a department of the Government 
or a branch of the Service which we have not during the 
last few years explored from top to bottom, improving the 
conditions of service, where they were obsolete or inadequate, 
formulating a definite programme of policy or action, and 
endeavouring to raise the standard and the tone." The pro- 
cess of being placed " upon the anvil " was not always agree- 
able for those who had to endure it, but the wholesome results 
were eventually visible in a large increase of efficiency. 

To these achievements may be added the remarkable 
effect which was produced throughout the Administration 
by the personal example of Lord Curzon. His abounding 
energy, his untiring industry, his enthusiastic devotion to 
his innumerable duties, encouraged and stimulated all who 
were brought into contact with him. There was not a 
servant of the CroAvn in India who did not realise that how- 
ever hard he worked, the Viceroy was working harder. 
Whether he always displayed unerring judgment in the 

25 



f 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

choice of the instruments of his policy is to some extent an 
open question; but he certainly possessed the faculty of 
extracting the maximum of wilHng work from his colleagues 
and subordinates. 

In the third group of subjects which prominently engaged 
Lord Curzon's attention may be included the improvement 
of the defences of the country, the development of arts and 
industries, the encouragement of irrigation, and the reform of 
the police. One unfortunate consequence of the controversy 
with which his Viceroyalty terminated is the prevalent vague 
impression that he was not eager for military reforms, and 
even endeavoured to thwart them. That is by no means 
the case. Lord Curzon loyally supported Lord Kitchener 
in his efforts to improve the efficiency of the Indian Army, 
and without his constant co-operation the success attained 
by Lord Kitchener would have been impossible. The list 
of reforms he was instrumental in carrying before Lord 
Kitchener's advent is considerable. He declared that he 
would flinch from no outlay which was necessary for the 
military protection of India. He recognised that there were 
many defects ; it was because he was eager to rectify them 
that he repeatedly pressed the Home authorities to send Lord 
Kitchener to his aid ; and he never refused the Commander- 
in-Chief a single rupee for his scheme of reorganisation. 

Lord Curzon never lost an opportunity of encouraging 
the revival of Indian arts and industries, and he gave up 
much time to schemes for the development of technical 
education and industrial schools. He largely increased the 
expenditure upon irrigation, and as a result of the Irrigation 
Commission which he appointed, a scheme estimated to cost 
thirty millions sterling, spread over a period of twenty years, 
was adopted. Police reform occupied a prominent place in 
his first list of subjects, and the outcome of the prolonged 
sittings of the Police Commission was the commencement 
of a process of improvement, which is, however, still largely 
incomplete. 

26 I 



P 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

In yet another group of questions dealt with by Lord 
Curzon, and not necessarily inferior in importance to those 
already mentioned, may be placed the encouragement and 
protection of native chiefs and states, a railway policy without 
precedent for vigour, the creation of a number of expert ap- 
pointments, the Tibet Mission, the improvement of Calcutta, 
and the preservation of ancient buildings and antiquities. 

Lord Curzon's policy towards native states, which will 
be discussed in detail hereafter, was best summed up in his 
speech on receiving the freedom of the City of London in 
1904, when he said : " I have always been a devoted 
believer in the continued existence of the native states 
in India, and an ardent well-wisher of the native princes. 
But I believe in them not as relics, but as rulers ; not as 
puppets, but as living factors in the administration. I want 
them to share the responsibilities as well as the glories of 
British rule." He left a deep impress upon the native 
state, and no Indian rulers who governed their subjects well, 
and maintained a well-afFected attitude towards British 
overlordship, ever had occasion to resent his close attention 
to their welfare. During his Viceroyalty he restored to the 
Maharajah of Kashmir the powers of which he had been 
relieved, and he settled with the Nizam of Hyderabad 
a dispute about the control of Berar which had dragged on 
unsolved for half a century. He raised the Imperial Cadet 
Corps, and he constantly encouraged and improved the im- 
portant educational work undertaken at the Chiefs' Colleges. 

The railway policy of Lord Curzon embraced both a 
large increase in construction and greater efficiency of 
administration. When he went to India, 22,040 miles of 
railway were open ; before he started he said he hoped 
25,000 would be completed in his time : and as a matter of \ 
fact he raised the total railway mileage to over 28,000 miles. 
His railway inquiries were followed by many improvements, 
and he created a Railway Board, which, however, chose at 
first to work upon lines which did not command general 

27 



INDIA UNDER CUKZON AND AFTER 

approval. The Tibet Mission, which was rendered neces- 
sary by the truculent behaviour and the menacing intrigues 
of the Dalai Lama, penetrated to Lhasa and thus pierced 
the last mystery of Asia ; but its results were partly 
nullified by the subsequent policy of the Home Govern- 
ment. If we thwarted Russian designs, we ingenuously 
left the way clear for the transformation of the decaying 
suzerainty of China into direct Chinese rule. 

The expert appointments created byLordCurzon included 
those of a chief inspector of mines, a director-general of edu- 
cation, a director of criminal intelligence (in reality a controller 
of the secret service, whose work is at present as onerous as 
that of any official in India), a sanitary commissioner, a 
director-general of commercial intelligence, a director-general 
of archaeology, and an inspector-general of irrigation. All 
these officers have done valuable work in their respective 
spheres. He was so intensely interested in the improvement 
of Calcutta that the other great cities grew rather jealous of 
his devotion to the capital. He did much to beautify the 
city, and inaugurated a scheme for its improvement which is 
estimated to involve an ultimate cost of £5,500,000. He 
said that when he contemplated the enormous possibilities 
of Calcutta, he almost felt that when he ceased to be 
Viceroy he should like to become Chairman of the Calcutta 
Corporation. His work for the preservation of antiquities 
was endorsed and appreciated by the entire country, and the 
care he exercised in the renovation and adornment of the 
Taj Mahal was in striking contrast to the exploit of a 
Viceroy of long ago, who was on the verge of permitting 
the destruction of the building for the value of its marbles. 
/ Among other labours undertaken by Lord Curzon may 

be noted his unremitting efforts to prevent the spread 
of plague. He visited the plague-stricken centres, in- 
spected plague hospitals, even had himself inoculated with 
Mr. Haffkine's prophylactic to encourage the frightened 
people to submit to inoculation, authorised large preventive 

28 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

measures, and arranged for prolonged expert investigation 
into the manner of transmission of the disease. It cannot 
be said that these activities had any very definite results, for 
plague has to this day baffled doctors and scientists. 
During Lord Curzon's term of office, the annual plague 
mortality steadily increased, and over four million deaths from 
plague were recorded during his Viceroyalty. The cholera 
mortality, never absent from Indian death returns, ran into 
millions during the same period, and the deaths from all 
the diseases vaguely described as " fever " were far more 
numerous ; but these were normal factors, and the gravity 
of the losses from plague lies in the fact that they are mostly 
in excess of the normal death-rate. 

Lord Curzon further had to face the greatest famine ") 
which India has endured in modern times. The widespread 
famine of 1896-97 has been already explained. The 
moonsoon rains failed again in the very first year of his i 
Viceroyalty, and by October 1899 he was confronted by a \ 
visitation unparalleled in extent and severity. The total 
area affected amounted to over 475,000 square miles, with a 
population of nearly sixty millions, of whom thirty millions 
belonged to native states. In July 1900 the number of 
people in receipt of relief reached the enormous total of over 
six millions. The amount spent by the Government in relief 
exceeded six millions sterling. Lord Curzon threw himself 
with characteristic energy into the task of coping with this 
calamitous affliction. He not only supervised the details of 
the campaign, but also personally visited the smitten areas 
in the midst of the pouring rains of the monsoon ; and 
afterwards, at his instance. Sir Antony Macdonnell con- 
ducted inquiries which finally settled the principles upon 
which famines were in future to be fought. The heavy 
labours which the famine of 1900 involved would alone have 
sufficed to make the reputation of some Viceroyalties. 

In August 1903, Lord Curzon announced to the Legis- 
lative Council that his Majesty's Government had offered 

29 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

him an extension of his term of office, and that he had 
decided to accept the offer, with an interim vacation to 
England. In the early days of British rule Governors- 
General frequently held office for prolonged periods. 
Warren Hastings, for instance, was Governor-General for 
thirteen years. There were, however, only two who had 
exceeded the five years' term during the preceding half- 
century, and neither example was encouraging. Dalhousie 
and Canning both left India dying men. Many people, by 
no means hostile to Lord Curzon, think he would have been 
wiser not to have returned. I do not share that view. He 
had " embarked upon wide and comprehensive schemes of 
reform " which had not been carried to completion. Had he 
left India for ever on the conclusion of his first term, he 
would have departed in a golden haze of panegyric ; he would 
have been spared the bitterness of later years, and might 
have rested on a reputation thrice earned ; but he would 
have had the consciousness that much of his work had been 
left unfinished. Duty, and duty alone, beckoned him back, 
and he could not but hearken to the call. He told Lord 
Salisbury when he was appointed that it would take him 
seven years to accomplish all he hoped to do. Even that 
time was al] too short. 

He sailed from Bombay on April 30, 1904, and during 
his absence Lord Ampthill, Governor of Madras, acted as 
Viceroy. Lord Ampthill was then only thirty-five, and 
was the youngest Englishman who had ever held the 
Viceroyalty. During his temporary sojourn at Simla he 
had to direct the later stages of the Tibet Mission, and 
the negotiations which led to the despatch of a JNIission to 
Kabul ; and he discharged his duties with a thoroughness 
which won for him the esteem of the services and the respect 
of the Indian public. While in England Lord Curzon was 
presented with the freedom of the City of London and of the 
borough of Derby, and King Edward conferred upon him 
the office of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, which had 

30 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

been rendered vacant by the death of Lord Salisbury. 
During his residence at Walmer Castle Lady Curzon con- 
tracted a dangerous illness, and he was compelled to return 
to India without her, though she afterwards rejoined him, 
thereby so impairing her health that she died in 1906. 

Lord Curzon landed once more at Bombay on Decem- 
ber 9, 1904, outwardly alert and vigorous, but with a heavy 
heart. " I land alone," he said to the members of the 
Bombay JMunicipality, who tendered respectful greetings, 
*' to resume this great burden, without the sympathy and the 
solace at my side that have been my mainstay during these 
hard and often weary years." The glamour of the task had 
never faded, the bright hopes of six years earlier were in 
process of fulfilment, but the strain of the immense volume 
of work had grown almost insupportable, and the air was 
thick with the dust of controversy. Lord Curzon's loneli- 
ness was not only domestic. He had outlasted most of the 
colleagues with whom he had commenced his work. Sir 
Walter Lawrence, the friend of his youth, the faithful and 
devoted private secretary who had so loyally helped him in 
his first term, had gone back to England. At the moment 
of his return Lord Curzon seemed more powerful than he 
had ever been ; he really dominated the Administration and 
all India. The Pioneer wrote : " Never was Lord Curzon's 
happy star more in evidence than at the present moment " ; 
but, still half unseen, the instruments of trouble were at 
hand. 

The Universities Act, virulently resented because it 
removed the five great educational institutions of the 
country from the hands of the cliques into which they had 
fallen, had stirred up among the " Nationalist " party a spirit 
of violent hostility to the Viceroy. The partition of Bengal, 
which had taken a larger shape during Lord Curzon's 
absence, was presently announced, and evoked the most 
ludicrous corybantics among the excitable politicians of 
Calcutta. A boycott of English products was declared in 

31 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Bengal, and a movement was inaugurated which plunged 
the provdnce into artificial and manufactured strife. In 
earlier years the nativ^e Press had been unusually cordial 
towards the Viceroy ; but the more unworthy organs now 
adopted a tone which was inflammatory in its incitements to 
disorder and malignant in its denunciations of Lord Curzon. 
While he was in England a Bombay native newspaper had 
practically suggested that he should be treated as the Grand 
Duke Sergius had been treated at Moscow. The atrocious 
suggestion was most unwisely allowed to pass unpunished. 
During the last months of his stay in India Lord Curzon 
was too preoccupied to pay much heed to the malicious out- 
pourings of the native journals, which naturally took full 
advantage of the undue licence they were enjoying. 

At this period, too, the widespread if limited conspiracy 
which afterwards produced so many assassinations was being 
stealthily organised, though its existence was then almost 
unsuspected. As will be explained in a later chapter, this 
more dangerous movement had only a limited connection 
with the political controversies which disturbed the close of 
Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty. It was really the outcome of 
the wave of resentment against subjection and tutelage 
which has swept through every Asiatic country. The 
peoples of Asia are beginning to challenge and to defy 
European domination. In India the movement was 
stimulated by increasing intercourse wdth the world 
outside, still more by the dazzling victories of an Asiatic 
race in the Far East. Its gravest feature was, and still 
is, not so much the crimes which were its result, as the 
absence of open disapproval of those crimes among 
very large numbers of the population. No doubt the 
excitement engendered by the Universities Act and the 
partition of Bengal was cleverly utilised to propagate the 
doctrines of anarchism which disaffected Indians had bor- 
rowed from the West ; but unrest and its accompaniment 
of violence would have appeared in India at this juncture, 

82 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

and would have spread with almost as much incendiary- 
rapidity, if the Universities had been left alone, if Bengal 
had remained one and indivisible, if, indeed, Lord Curzon 
had never been born. The times were ripe for it ; all Asia 
was astir ; and it was only a chronological coincidence which 
led short-sighted observers to attribute its appearance to an 
educational reform and a rearrangement of administrative 
boundaries, however important the effect of these measures 
may have been. 

The coincidence, however, was marked enough to create 
much misconception in England at a later date concerning 
the real results of Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty. The public 
were slow to understand that they were in the presence of 
the beginnings of a great world-movement, and that the 
hostile ebullitions which seemed so sensational were only the 
mere flecks of foam upon the wave. Few people realised, or 
even now realise, that one of the great claims of Lord 
Curzon to the recognition of the historian of the British 
Empire will be that by his vigorous readjustment and over- 
hauling of every branch of the machinery of administration, 
he infused into British rule in India that renewed strength 
and restored efficiency which mil enable it to withstand the 
shocks by which it may be eventually assailed. Our hol4 
upon India would have been loosening to-day had it not 
been for his seven years of anxious, largely unrecognised, 
and still unrequited toil. He made it clear to the people 
of India that Great Britain is still strong to rule, and the 
memory of his firm control will not lightly be forgotten. 
^ If, indeed, Lord Curzon was in any degree responsible 
for the growth of the Nationalist movement in India, it was 
solely by reason of the strength and solidity of his work. 
He was animated throughout by an inflexible belief in the 
permanence of British rule, which he recognised to be best 
for India in the interests of the Indians themselves. He 
held, as Lord Cromer holds, and told the Classical Associa- 
tion in 1909, that "it will be well for England, better for 

33 c 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

India, and best of all for the cause of progressive civilisation 
in general, if it be clearly understood from the outset that 
... we have not the smallest intention of abandoning our 
Indian possessions, and that it is highly improbable that any 
such intention will be entertained by our posterity." Lord 
Curzon never paltered with that fundamental issue, as some 
associated with the control of India have done. He lost no 
opportunity of making it plain that British supremacy was 
intended to endure, and he bent all his energies to making 
it impregnable. To that extent he may have contributed to 
precipitate the outburst of Nationalist activity which followed 
his departure ; but if that is the case, it is a matter for 
pride, not for regret, and for praise, not for reproof. It is 
almost criminal to excite false hopes about our intentions 
and aims in India. 

It must not be supposed that amid the rising din of dis- 
putation there was any slackening of work upon the under- 
takings which Lord Curzon had returned to complete. The 
projected police reforms were duly begun. The revision 
of the Famine Codes in each province was concluded. The 
recommendations of the Irrigation Commission were put 
into operation. The Co-operative Credit Societies, then stiU 
in the initial stage, were steadily increased in number. The 
principles of elasticity in land revenue collection, previously 
laid down, were applied in a practical form. The new 
department of Commerce and Industry was started, and the 
Railway Board inaugurated. The construction of the Pusa 
Agricultural College was commenced. The various educa- 
tional reforms were advanced by several stages. A host of 
other questions were finally dealt with ; but interest in all 
these proceedings was largely overshadowed by the dif- 
ferences concerning military administration, which eventually 
brought about Lord Curzon's resignation. 

It has been said already that in all schemes for improving 
the efficiency of the Indian Army and the defences of India 
Lord Curzon and Lord Kitchener were able to work harmo- 

34 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

niously together. There was, however, one aspect of Lord 
Kitchener's projected reforms upon which they had from the 
outset joined issue. Under the system hitherto prevaihng, 
the Commander-in-Chie f was resp onsible for the organisation 
and training of the Army, and for promotions and move- 
ments of troops. There was also a Military Department, in 
charge of a Member of Council, who was always a soldier of high 
rank. The ^lilitary Member was an additional adviser of the 
Viceroy upon Army affairs, and it was the particular function 
of his department to maintain a check upon expenditure. 

Lord Kitchener had conceived an aversion to the Military 
Department before he came to India at all. He proposed 
its abolition almost as soon as he arrived. He wanted to 
have supreme and undivided control of the Army, and to 
decide and direct its expenditure without any of those checks 
which are furnished in every civilised country. He was 
persuaded to postpone his proposals, and he did so largely in 
the belief that he would carry his point after Lord Curzon's 
Viceroyalty had terminated. The extension of Lord 
Curzons term of office disconcerted his plans, and the whole 
issue was raised afresh upon the Viceroy's return. Lord 
Curzon opposed the project, chiefly on the ground that the 
supremacy of the civil power would be subverted. India, he 
said in effect, would pass under a military dictatorship. A 
compromise was for a time patched up. It was agreed that 
a new Military Supply Department should be created and 
placed in charge of a soldier of experience, who would be a 
^lember of Council and act as an independent mihtary 
adviser to the Viceroy. A fresh dispute arose as to the 
choice of the new member. The Cabinet in England did not 
appear to appreciate the gra\dty of the constitutional principles 
involved. Mr. Balfour's Ministry was tottering towards 
its fall. The question was settled, as I now believe, primarily 
upon its merits as they were conceived by the Cabinet, 
but perhaps also in compUance with the supposed needs 
of a Government which feared that its doom was at hand. 

35 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

The decision appeared to involve the resignation either of 
the Viceroy or of the Commander-in-Chief Lord Kitchener 
was the idol of the market-place, and his disappearance from 
India at that juncture would probably have imperilled the 
Ministry. He was upheld, and Lord Curzon resigned and 
left India on November 18, landing in England to find that 
the INIinistry and the roof of Charing Cross had fallen. 

No controversy had stirred India so deeply for genera- 
tions, and Lord Curzon truly said, two days before he sailed, 
that he had the whole country behind him. Animosities 
were temporarily forgotten, the Anglo-Indian and the native 
Press were for once united, the civil and military ser^dces 
were of one mind. The new Liberal Government at home 
supported the decision of its predecessors, but the Supply 
Department soon proved to be a sham, as it was meant to 
be. Lord Morley, who had become Secretary of State for 
India, abolished it in 1909, and Lord Kitchener concluded 
his term of office as Commander-in-Chief in the enjoyment 
of powers which are not likely to be permanently continued. 
Sir Charles Dilke said in the Indian Budget debate in 
August 1909, that he had "not met any authority who did 
not think that we will have to go slowly back to the system 
which has been abolished." JNIost impartial persons, who 
have a knowledge of Indian conditions, and who have made 
a careful study of the question, will endorse his statement. 

In the succeeding chapters of this book I shall deal in 
greater detail with the principal events of Lord Curzon's 
Vicroyalty, and I shall add some record of Indian affairs 
since his departure. I shall have something to say in 
conclusion about the personal characteristics of his rule, his 
methods of work, and the trying conditions under which it 
was often conducted. Few people know, even now, the 
story of the frequent agonies of physical infirmity which had 
to be borne in secret and in silence. Lord Curzon returned 
to India, against medical advice and at the risk of a 
permanent physical breakdown, to complete his task. India 

36 



A GENERAL SURVEY 

left marks upon him which can never be effaced. I recognise 
that in pubhc hfe, as in Hterature, a man must be judged 
solely by his work, and that the conditions under which it 
is accomplished are a minor matter with which the world 
has small concern ; but without some mention of these 
details the picture would be incomplete. 

In this preliminary sketch I have made little attempt to 
be critical, but it will be my endeavour to present later as 
impartial an account as possible of the labours of these seven 
eventful years. I am only incidentally concerned with Lord 
Curzon's personality; my purpose is rather to direct the 
attention of his countrymen to the work he did for India. 
The man himself does not matter ; the Indian Empire and 
his work for it are everything. Had it been possible I 
would have excluded all reference to the controversy upon 
military administration to which I have just referred. 1 
would have followed this course, in spite of the fact that 
I consider Lord Curzon was absolutely right in the position 
he took up, because I feel that the incident which terminated 
his Viceroyalty has distracted public attention to a deplorable 
deo^ree from the ffreat and constructive character of his 
Administration. But the controversy cannot be ignored, 
and it must be allotted its proper and subordinate place in 
the narrative. 

Lord Curzon went out to India with great hopes and 
high ideals. He realised most of his hopes, and he rarely 
fell short of the ideals he had set before himself. At the 
moment of his departure, a feeling of enthusiasm in his favour 
swept through the entire country. No one who was present 
at the great and historic scene in the stately dining-hall of 
the Byculla Club at Bombay, will ever forget his last words 
to India. As was written at the time : " In all the eloquent 
discourse there was no single trace of bitterness. Regret 
was there, and sorrow, and some tinge of that poignant 
sadness that must always overtake a man when the time 
comes for him to write * Finis ' upon the task to which he 

a? 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

has given many of the best years of his Hfe ; but the 
dominant note that rang through the closing passages of 
the speech was that of deep humihty. The day of battle 
and of hard endeavour had ended ; the last strokes had been 
compassed ; for good or evil, the work was accomplished." 
His speech, delivered in an atmosphere charged with deep 
emotion, ended thus : 

*'A hundred times in India have I said to myself, Oh 
that to every Englishman in this country, as he ends his 
work, might be truthfully applied the phrase : ' Thou hast 
loved righteousness and hated iniquity.' No man has, I 
believe, ever served India faithfully of whom that could not 
be said. All other triumphs are tinsel and sham. Perhaps 
there are few of us who make anything but a poor 
approximation to that ideal. But let it be our ideal all the 
same. To fight for the right, to abhor the imperfect, the 
unjust, or the mean, to swerve neither to the right hand nor 
to the left, to care nothing for flattery or applause or odium 
or abuse — it is so easy to have any of tliem in India — never 
to let your enthusiasm be soured or your courage grow dim, 
but to remember that the Almighty has placed your hand 
on the greatest of His ploughs, in whose furrow the nations 
of the future are germinating and taking shape, to drive 
the blade a little forward in your time, and to feel that 
somewhere among these millions you have left a little justice 
or happiness or prosperity, a sense of manliness or moral 
dignity, a spring of patriotism, a daAvn of intellectual 
enlightenment, or a stirring of duty, where it did not before 
exist — that is enough, that is the Englishman's justification 
in India. It is good enough for his watchword while he is 
here, for his epitaph when he is gone. I have worked for 
no other aim. Let India be my judge." 

So he passed from India, with head high and courage 
unfaltering, having shed fresh lustre upon the name of 
Englishman, and done no single thing to stain it. 



38 



II 

THE NOKTH-WEST FRONTIER 

I. THE TRIBAL COUNTRY 

The problem of the North- West Frontier is one of the abid- 
ing difficulties of the Government of India. There are two 
frontiers in this region, the administrative and the political 
frontiers. Within the administrative frontier there exists 
the ordinary system of control as exercised throughout 
British India, though it is modified in various ways to suit 
local conditions. It may be said roughly that the King- 
Emperor's writ runs throughout the plains and among the 
foothills of the north-west. Beyond the administrative 
frontier lies a vast plexus of rugged brown mountains, amid 
which live some of the fiercest and most warlike races upon 
earth. The area between the two frontiers is about 25,000 
square miles in extent, and it contains a population of about 
1^ millions, every man among whom is more or less of a 
fighter. If all the men in the tribal territories could be 
mustered together, they would probably be able to place in 
the field an army of very nearly 300,000 men, though not 
all of equal fighting value. 

This lawless tract, where might is right, and the rifle 
settles most disputes, extends from the Afghan district of 
Wakhan on the Pamirs, to the borders of Baluchistan. Its 
southern half is bisected by the Kurram Valley, the only 
point at which the administrative frontier is conterminous 
with that of Afghanistan. From the Kurram to a point a 
little north of the Kabul River, the exact limits of Afghan 

39 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

jurisdiction have never been properly demarcated, and 
serious disputes have arisen in consequence. Tiie tribal 
country is probably the most extraordinary example of a 
modern Alsatia in the world. Its people are divided into 
innumerable sections and sub-divisions, which merge on 
occasion into the larger units of the clan and the tribe. In 
the north they offer a loose allegiance to chiefs, such as the 
Mehtar of Chitral and the Nawab of Dir. In the south 
they are more democratic, and are for the most part 
controlled by headmen chosen from among themselves, or 
by jirgahs, composed of most of the leading men of the 
tribe or sept. They are at all times liable to be inflamed 
into conflict by the exhortations of fanatical priests. From 
time immemorial they have never been permanently 
conquered. When invading hordes have swept through 
the passes from Central Asia to the sack of Hindustan, the 
tribesmen have either been won over by bribes or the 
prospect of loot, or have hung on the flanks of the armies 
to rob and kill, or have withdrawn to their mountain 
fastnesses until the wave of inv^asion has spent itself. The 
rulers of Afghanistan formerly claimed a shadowy suzerainty 
over them, but had to bribe them to keep the passes open. 
The men of the frontier heights are soldiers of fortune, who 
furnish some of our best fighting material. They are 
robbers, who wander in gangs far and wide in India, 
pilfering everywhere, and sometimes levying blackmail in 
lonely villages far away in INIadras or Bengal. They are at 
times fitfully industrious, swarming down to Bombay to 
work as stokers on the mail-ships, and they then become 
almost as much at home in the London Docks or on the 
Circular Quay at Sydney as in the green valleys of Tirah. 
I have even met them, cheerful and independent and a little 
truculent, in the very heart of Australia. 

These stalwart bearded hill-men acknowledge no law, 
save only the modern injunction that they must not raid in 
Afghanistan or in the settled British districts. Even that 

40 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

simple and elementary order has been rarely heeded in the 
past, and is still often disregarded. They fight with the 
tribesmen in Afghan territory, and sally forth in small bands 
to plunder the rich villages of the Indian plains. Their 
ancestors were wont to harry the country-side, and they 
obey to this day the overpowering instinct which occasionally 
impels them to do likewise. Among themselves, they engage 
in protracted blood-feuds, and quarrel about their women. 
They have queer notions of honour, and a wealth of grim 
philosophy expressed in proverbs ; and fighting is the joy 
of their lives. 

When the British annexed the Punjab in 1849, they 
came at once into collision with the caterans of the frontier. 
They sought to stop raiding, and sent an expedition against 
some Swati clans. That expedition was the forerunner of 
fifty-three others, large and small, ranging from the little 
band of 280 men led by Wigram Battye against the Utman 
Khel, to the great force of 40,000 troops which fought its 
way through the country of the Afridis and the Orakzais in 
1897-98. We poured out millions of pounds, and sacrificed 
thousands of lives, in our repeated efforts to hold the 
frontier tribes in check, during a period extending over 
exactly fifty years. We never had a settled and definite 
policy on the frontier. We never made up our minds about 
what we wanted to do. We waited until a particular tribe 
had exhausted our patience by repeated acts of violence, and 
then we marched in and tried to smash it. Occasionally we 
gave the offending tribe heavy punishment, but often our 
troops suffered more severely than the foe. The tribesmen 
were rarely obliging enough to come out into the open, but 
fought from behind rocks, fired into our camps at night, and 
cut off unwary patrols. We never profited by our bitter 
lessons. Sometimes we built a small fort in an isolated position 
in tribal territory, and generally had to rescue the garrison 
from a siege afterwards ; but for several decades " butcher 
and bolt" was usually our only maxim in frontier warfare. 

41 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Many experienced soldiers have urged that the only way 
to effect a permanent settlement of the frontier question 
is to occupy the tribal country right up to the political 
boundary. The contention, at first sight, seems logical. 
Occupation would, however, entail the construction of at 
least three lines of railway, one north of the Khyber, the 
second through the Kurram Valley, and the third along the 
Tochi Valley. Any permanent advance on the frontier 
without the aid of the locomotive would be madness. The 
railway is the true civiliser, and never until the locomotive's 
whistle echoes below the heights of the Safed Koh will the 
Pathans lay down their arms. Occupation would further 
involve the making of a large network of military roads, and 
it would certainly necessitate the creation of a great canton- 
ment in Maidan, the heart of Tirah. It would, moreover, 
imply a long and bloody war against the tribes, a war 
extending over years, and likely to cost an enormous sum. 
We might settle the frontier question, indeed, but at what 
a price ! No one who has studied the records of the Russian 
conquest of the Caucasus can contemplate the proposed 
enterprise without a shudder. 

The military argument is, primarily, that if we have to 
advance into Afghanistan, and if we suffer reverses there at 
the hands of a foe from beyond, we may, under present con- 
ditions, find the tribesmen swarming down and cutting our 
lines of communication. The answer is that such was not 
our experience during the two Afghan wars, in the first of 
which we met with a disaster w^ithout precedent in the 
annals of British arms. It may further be observed that we 
might find ourselves in a worse plight than ever if we 
attempted to enter Afghanistan while seeking also to main- 
tain a hold over 25,000 square miles of mountains on our 
side of the Afghan frontier. The second contention is that 
if we ever have grave internal trouble in India, we may 
bitterly regret that we have left these swarms of armed 
plunderers unsubdued. Admittedly that argument has 

42 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

considerable force, but it may be pointed out that the tribes 
at present sliovv little real cohesion in aggressive warfare, 
and that during the Indian Mutiny we enlisted large num- 
bers of Pathans, who behaved exceedingly well. The whole 
situation is greatly complicated by the enormous influx of 
arms and ammunition into the tribal country and Afghan- 
istan during the last few years. That is a factor which tells 
both for and against what I have styled the military argu- 
ment, which is by no means, however, advanced by all 
soldiers with frontier experience. I shall deal with the arms 
question in discussing Afghanistan. 

I do not scoff at the advocates of occupation, among 
whom I was once numbered ; but I say that their proposal, 
however sound it may appear strategically, is absolutely 
impossible as a piece of practical politics. It would plunge 
India into an interminable war which she cannot afford. It 
would stop all expenditure on internal development for 
years to come. It would inevitably produce a reflex effect 
of active unrest in every great city in the country. It 
would, moreover, tax the whole available resources of the 
Indian Army to bring the 300,000 fighting men of the fron- 
tier into complete subjection. The task could not be 
undertaken piecemeal. The moment our intention was 
realised, the frontier would be ablaze from end to end. It 
would further involve the probability of immediate war with 
Afghanistan, because the Amir would assuredly regard our 
advance as merely the prelude to the conquest of his terri- 
tories. The theory of occupation is, in short, largely inadmis- 
sible in any case, and with India in its present condition, it 
is absolutely out of the question. 

What, then, remains ? Is there no alternative between 
permanent conquest and punitive expeditions which have 
often failed to punish ? 

It was reserved for Lord Curzon to offer another solution 
of the riddle of the frontier very soon after he arrived in 
India. He settled the whole issue by the adoption of 

43 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

methods which were statesmanlike, prudent, and effective. 
He did not dispose of the frontier question for ever, because 
there can be no finahty in such a problem. But he devised 
a policy which time has amply justified, he terminated the 
almost ceaseless warfare, and he gave India eleven years of 
comparative peace upon her borders. Since he became 
Viceroy of India there has been only one serious tribal 
outbreak. It occurred long after his departure, and it was 
soon suppressed. 



II. CHITRAL 

Before dealing with the frontier question as a whole. 
Lord Curzon was immediately compelled, as soon as he had 
landed, to decide how Chitral was to be held in future. 
Chitral had recently been a subject of almost passionate 
controversy in Parliament and in the English Press. The 
case was a typical example of the manner in which important 
Imperial questions become the prey of party politics. There 
is no monopoly of culpability in such matters. Both parties 
are at times equally ready to adopt similar tactics if their 
purpose is thereby served. The question of Chitral was 
of considerable moment, because the state lies under the 
shadow of the Hindu Kush. That mighty range rises like 
a natural wall to shut off India from the Russian sphere of 
influence on the Pamirs. We were compelled to establish 
visible signs of our influence in Chitral, because otherwise 
the Russian emissaries would have come through a hole in 
the wall and intrigued against us. They had already made 
similar attempts in neighbouring states, once, in Hunza, 
with temporary success. 

The Government of India had for twenty years before 
1899 been strengthening its control over the external aiffairs 
of Chitral. It had done so with the knowledge and approval 
of both political parties. Lord Hartington (then a Liberal), 
Lord Cross, and Lord Kimberley had successively endorsed 

4.4 



THE NORTH WEST FRONTIER 

these steps, which were also designed to prevent the intro- 
duction of Afghan influence into the country. In 1895, 
civil war between claimants to the Chitrali " throne " was 
followed by the siege of Sir George Robertson and a small 
force in the local fort. An expedition was sent to their 
relief, and Sir Robert Low, who commanded it, was in- 
structed to issue a proclamation as soon as he entered 
tribal territory. The proclamation was not addressed to 
the Chitralis at all. It was addressed to the people of Swat 
and Dir, through whose country the troops had to march. 
They were told that as soon as the force had accomplished 
its object in Chitral, it would be withdrawn. The Govern- 
ment of India, it was said, had no intention of occupying any 
territory through which its soldiers had to pass, or of inter- 
fering with the independence of the tribes. The troops 
would scrupulously avoid any acts of hostility towards the 
tribesmen, so long as they on their part refrained from 
attacking or impeding the force. 

The Swatis and the men of Dir did not accept 
the assurances of the proclamation. Sir Robert Low 
had to fight his way through them, and reached the fort 
at Chitral to find that Colonel Kelly had already relieved 
it with a handful of men from Gilgit. In the meantime, 
the Government of India had realised that if it was to 
exercise any permanent influence over the Chitralis, it could 
only do so by keeping a force of troops in the state. In this 
decision it was perfectly right. Approval of the retention 
of a force in Chitral is not inconsistent with the objections 
I have already expressed against an advance on the frontier. 
The case of Chitral is special and peculiar. It is the only 
point at which the Indian frontier practically touches Russian 
territory, for the narrow intervening tongue of Afghan 
land is little more than a diplomatic fiction. The Chitralis, 
though bloodthii'sty enough, are not so fiercely independent 
as the tribes farther south, and are more likely to yield to 
Russian intrigue or Afghan menaces. They are also, in 

45 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

spite of their one outbreak, less disposed to wage war against us 
than the men of Tirah ; but we cannot trust them to guard the 
narrow gate without our constant and visible support. No 
one now expects to see a force of raiders emerge through the 
Dorah Pass, but as Sir Thomas Holdich has said, "its existence 
renders necessary an advanced watch-tower at Chitral." 

The Government of India made known its unanimous 
desire to keep a force in Chitral in May 1895. Lord Rose- 
bery's Cabinet refused to consent, but before the end of 
June it had been defeated on the cordite vote and Lord 
Salisbury had assumed office. Meanwhile the affairs of 
Chitral had become prominent in the Press, and a number 
of eminent Anglo-Indians had entered the lists in support 
of the decision of the Liberal Government to withdraw. 
Lord Curzon was at that time almost the only man in 
England who had recent personal knowledge of the theatre 
of war, and he had to face such vigorous opponents as Sir 
James Lyall, Sir John Adye, Sir Lepel Griffin, and others 
whose names carried considerable weight. But though he 
fought the battle against withdrawal very nearly single- 
handed, he had the satisfaction of knowing that his views 
prevailed. The new Administration at once decided to support 
the Government of India, and not to abandon Chitral. 

Having decided to remain, it was necessary to improve 
the communications, and a road was made to Chitral. The 
men of Swat and Dir not only offered no opposition, but 
even expressed their acquiescence, and furnished levies to 
guard the road. They were told that it was only meant to 
afford easy transit for the troops marching every year to 
relieve the Chitral garrison, and no attempt was ever made 
to occupy their country. The strength and exact location of 
the Chitral garrison were left undecided for many months, 
because the state only slowly resumed its normal condition. 
In July 1897 came the rapid revolt all along the frontier, 
heralded by the sudden attack of the Swat tribesmen upon 
the little outpost at Chakdara, beside the Swat River, and 

m 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

upon the large encampment of troops on the Malakand 
heights. That swift and unsuccessful onslaught was the 
beginning of the largest campaign ever known on the 
Indian frontier. The origin of the outburst is still obscure. 
It was not due to one cause, but to a combination of many- 
causes, among which the incitements of fanatical mullahs 
was the chief. The existence of the road was undoubtedly 
used by the mullahs as one of several pretexts for exciting 
tribal passions, and the gradual advance of British influence 
in various directions during the preceding five years had 
unquestionably alarmed the tribesmen, but the explanation 
of the revolt must mainly be sought in the larger and more 
intricate problem of Mussulman fanaticism. 

These considerations, however, carried no weight with 
leading members of the Liberal party. In the autumn of 
1897 Mr. Morley and Mr. Asquith perambulated Scotland, 
and bewildered audiences in provincial towns were invited to 
consider the grievances of the men of Swat and Dir, of 
whose existence they were scarcely aware. They said there 
would have been no war had not the Government decided to 
remain in Chitral. They declared that the construction of 
the road had \dolated the proclamation issued by Sir Robert 
Low on entering Swat and Dir. Mr. Asquith even 
suggested that there had been a " gross breach of faith," an 
expression which he afterwards amply withdrew. There 
was no breach of faith with Chitral, because the proclamation 
was not addressed to the Chitralis at all. There was no 
breach of faith with the men of Swat and Dir, because they 
never accepted the proclamation. The Khans of Swat 
refused to remain passive, and the expedition had to fight 
its way through their forces. The pledges offered in the 
proclamation were therefore void. Nevertheless the fresh 
undertaking given when the road was commenced was faith- 
fully fulfilled. No attempt was made to annex the country, 
and the people retained their independence. Throughout 
the greater part of the road there was no rising during the 

47 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

prolonged war of 1897, although its southern portion was not 
open. Chitral, far from showing resentment at the presence 
of a British garrison, remained quiet and serene. 

The controversy was waged on the platform and in the 
Press for many weeks, and was finally terminated by the 
brilliant speech delivered by Lord Curzon during the debate 
on the Address in February 1898. It was the longest and, 
in many respects, the ablest speech he made while in the 
House of Commons. It not only answered with crushing 
force the attacks upon the Chitral policy of the Government, 
but it covered the whole of the issues awaiting settlement 
upon the frontier. He sketched those principles of frontier 
administration which he was afterwards to carry into effect 
with such signal success. It was not, he declared, a question 
of rifles and cannon, but of all that men of character could 
do amid a community of free men. He adhered to the 
methods of Sir Robert Sandeman, who practised " a policy 
of mingled courage and conciliation, and, above all, a policy 
of confidence and of moving about and acquiring the friend- 
ship of the tribes." He denied the suggestion that the Swat 
tribes would never keep the road open. He quoted the 
case of the wild freebooters of Hunza-Nagar, who had been 
converted by young British officers into loyal and attached 
feudatories. " I will stake all I possess," he exclaimed, " that 
in less than ten years that will be the case on the Chitral 
road." The prophecy has been fully vindicated. For the 
last thirteen years the annual reliefs of the Chitral garrison 
have marched up and down the road and never a shot has 
been fired. The operation of traversing the tribal territory 
is always regarded with some anxiety, but the passage of the 
troops has invariably been tranquil. 

One point in Lord Curzon's speech upon Chitral has 
been frequently the subject of much misleading comment. 
He said that Russia " has planted her soldiers right up to 
the waters of the Oxus, and we are equally bound to do the 
same." The remark has been interpreted as a suggestion 

48 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

that Great Britain ought to annex Afghanistan and carry 
her frontier beyond Balkh. Its real meaning, of course, was 
that Russian outposts were on the Upper Oxus, immediately 
beyond Chitral, and that we could not leave our own 
territory unguarded in their immediate neighbourhood. It 
was another reason why we should control Chitral. 

Lord Curzon, therefore, reached India with a very clear 
idea about the future of Chitral. It was predicted, on the 
one hand, that he would have to evacuate it within a few 
months, and on the other, that he would fill up the territory 
with troops. Neither event occurred. The scheme adopted 
for the retention of British surveillance in Chitral was 
modest but adequate. A proposal to build a large canton- 
ment at the capital was negatived. It was felt that the 
garrison required was small, and that, as there was no need 
constantly to remind the IMehtar of its presence, it could be 
best maintained at Drosh, some distance to the south. A 
fort of small proportions was built at Drosh, and the Chitral 
fort was at the same time strengthened. The Cliitral 
garrison now consists of a single regiment of native infantry, 
stationed at Drosh with the exception of a small section 
which serves as a guard for the Political Resident at the 
capital. The garrison stands sentinel against aggression 
from without, and ensures the maintenance of order within 
this portion of our frontier. The road was simultaneously 
improved, and a telegraph line was constructed a year or 
two later. A small force of Chitral levies holds minor posts 
along the road. A subsidiary feature of Lord Curzon's 
scheme was the raising of a force of Chitrali Scouts, for 
guerilla warfare in the event of invasion. The force is now 
1200 strong, it is periodically trained in batches, and the 
men are only allowed to retain their arms while under 
training. Its efficiency is dubious, because the Chitralis 
cannot long endure discipline, and they are not a good type 
of fighting men; but it may be assumed that the Scouts 
would serve the limited purpose for which they are intended. 

•i9 D 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

I have heard responsible officers express doubts as to the 
wisdom of remaining in Chitral, because they feel that a 
single regiment so remotely isolated must be always in some 
danger. I do not share those doubts, because I believe the 
Chitral garrison could always hold its own in an emergency 
until relief arrived. Moreover, the reasons which caused it 
to be placed there have lost none of their validity. The 
echoes of the Chitral controversy have long since died away. 
A policy which has stood the test of thirteen years is in no 
further need of justification, and no one to-day would dream 
of regarding either the occupation or the road as provocative. 
The episode of Chitral has been considered at exceptional 
length, both because no question of Indian frontier policy has 
been so much debated since the last Afghan War, and also 
because no man had a larger share in its settlement, both in 
England and in India, than Lord Curzon. It was, however, 
only a part, and by no means the most important part, of 
the broader issues of frontier policy which were adjusted 
during his Viceroyalty. 

III. THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER PROVINCE 

The settlement of the pressing Chitral question was a 
necessary prelude to an examination of the conditions 
prevailing on the rest of the Pathan frontier. These con- 
ditions were muddled, unsatisfactory, and not without an 
element of danger. The whole region had hardly recovered 
from the effects of the war, and batches of troops had been left 
stranded at isolated points in tribal territory by the receding 
tide of British invasion. The Khyber Pass, incontinently 
and shamefully abandoned at the first sign of trouble, had 
a garrison of regulars at Landi Kotal, whence they could 
descry through the gap a glimpse of green fields far below in 
Afghanistan. On the Samana Range, where the gallant 
Sikhs had defended Saraghari until killed to the last man, 
there were more regular troops in positions strategically 

50 



/ 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

unsound. Another force was locked up at the farther end 
of the Kurram Valley. There was a " movable column " in 
Swat, there were more troops in the Tochi Valley, and there 
were lonely posts elsewhere. The stations of these troops 
were arranged upon no coh erentplan, but the military 
authorities seemed to expect them to stay where they 
were. There was talk of a great fortress at Landi Kotal, 
and of other expensive fortified positions farther south. 

Exponents of frontier policy are popularly supposed to 
be divided into two schools. The advocates of the " forward 
policy " were at that time constantly breaking lances with 
those who cried : " Back to the Indus ! " though the latter 
cry was not meant to be taken literally. Lord Curzon 
belonged to neither party. He was emphatically against a 
forward movement, except that he wished to remain in 
Chitral. He was equally against any procedure which might 
imply a definite retreat. He chose a middle course, and in 
doing so may be said to have founded a new school of 
frontier politicians. Those who wish to plunge into the 
mountains and conquer the tribesmen still remain insistent, 
but we hear little nowadays from the party which formerly 
professed to regard the Indus as the natural frontier of India. 

Lord Curzon has himself tersely summed up his frontier 
policy as consisting of the principles of " withdrawal of 
British forces from advanced positions, employment of 
tribal forces in the defence of tribal country, concentration 
of British forces in British territory behind them as a 
safeguard and a support, and improvement of communi- 
cations in the rear." He refused to lock up regular troops 
in fortified positions far from their bases. At the same time, 
he recognised that the territories from which they were 
withdrawn could not be left without any sort of control. 
The essence of his policy, which he avowedly borrowed from 
Baluchistan, was to make the tribesmen themselves respon- 
sible for the maintenance of order. It was a policy which was 
already in existence in the Khyber and the Kurram, and the 

51 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

principle had also been accepted in Swat and Dir. In some 
areas he proposed to enrol men as military police ; in others, 
where the people were more soldierly, or the region more 
important, he decided to enlist them for definite military 
services as irregular troops. In nearly all cases the forces so 
raised were to be commanded by British officers. The policy 
thus employed increased the very limited loyalty of the 
tribesmen, and it gave the men in our service a direct 
interest in the preservation of peace, while close contact 
with their officers introduced habits of discipline which were 
bound to have beneficial results. 

It was obvious, however, that these forces of irregulars or 
police could not be simply enrolled and then left to their 
own devices. They might mutiny or quail in the face of 
danger. They might be unable to suppress a sudden rising. 
It was imperative that support should be always within 
their reach. Lord Curzon therefore adopted the principle, 
previously practised upon a limited scale, of establishing 
movable columns of regular troops at convenient centres on 
the edge of the plains, ready always to march at a moment's 
notice to the relief of the tribal forces. A necessary 
corollary was the improvement of roads, the extension of 
railways, particularly of light lines, and the enlargement of 
certain bases within the administrative frontier. 

Upon these principles, then, the local defences of the 
frontier were gradually reorganised. More men of Dir and 
Swat, over whom Mr. Asquith had shed such sympathetic 
tears, were enrolled as levies to hold various outlying posts. 
Apart from the regiment at Chitral, the farthest regular 
garrison in the north was placed at the Chakdara Bridge 
over the Swat River, supported by a greatly reduced force 
on the heights of the Maiakand. A light line was run from 
the main railway at Nowshera to Dargai, at the foot of the 
Maiakand, and it may be safely predicted tliat the tribesmen 
will never again menace that formidable eminence with any 
prospect of success. It is now actually being tunnelled for 

52 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

irrigation purposes. There were nearly 4000 regular troops 
in the Khyber Pass. They were all withdrawn, and the 
Khyber Rifles, raised among the Afridi and other tribes, were 
remodelled and left to guard the pass. I had an oppor- 
tunity of seeing some of them at Landi Kotal, and to the 
lay eye they seemed in no way inferior to regular native 
infantry. The railway was extended to Jamrud, at the 
entrance to the pass, and a new cart road was built at the 
back of the hills to the north of the Khyber, to give an 
alternative route to Landi Kotal. The road, be it noted, 
was made entirely by tribal labour. 

Southward, on the Samana Range, and in the Kurram 
Valley, the regulars were withdrawn, except from Fort Lock- 
hart, and their places taken by forces known as the Samana 
Rifles and the Kurram Militia. A direct road was made from 
Peshawar to Kohat — again the labour was furnished by the 
tribesmen — and a long branch railway was made from 
Khushalgarh, on the Indus, to Thai, at the mouth of the 
Kurram \^alley. The Tochi Valley was placed in charge of 
the North Waziristan Militia, and the Gomal Pass in charge 
of the South Waziristan Militia. To describe in detail the 
changes made would be to plunge into endless technicalities. 
Roughly, it may be said that tribesmen under varying forms 
of enlistment now hold, mostly under British officers, the 
road to Chitral, the Khyber Pass, the greater part of the 
Samana heights, the Kurram Valley, the Tochi Valley, and 
the Gomal Pass — in brief, all the main doors of the North- 
West Frontier. They are supported by forces of border 
military police, whose duty it is to prevent the incursions of 
marauding freebooters into the districts of Hazara, Peshawar, 
Kohat, Bannu, and Dera Ismail Khan, in British administra- 
tive territory. The border military police are not yet as 
efficient as they ought to be. A recent report declares 
that they " suffer from the combination of inadequate pay 
and hard work." Behind these forces are the garrisons of 
regulars, that for the Chitral road, at Chakdara and the 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Malakand ; for the Khyber, at Peshawar ; for the Samana 
and the Kurram, at Kohat and elsewhere ; for the Tochi, at 
Bannu ; and for the Gomal, at Dera Ismail Khan. The 
regular troops are cantoned in places where they can strike 
a swift blow, and they have the advantage of a freedom for 
training which was impossible while they were immured in hill- 
top forts. When Lord Curzon went to India, there were over 
15,000 regular troops on the wrong side of the administrative 
boundary. When he left, the number had been reduced to 
about 4000, including the Chitral garrison. In the mean- 
time, the tribal forces under British control had been raised 
to over 10,000 men, mostly enrolled during his Viceroy alty. 

Of another aspect of frontier policy less is heard, but it 
cannot here be ignored. I refer to the system of payments 
made at regular intervals to each important tribe. Lord 
Curzon, in one of his despatches, guardedly spoke of these 
payments as " confidential communications with the tribes." 
The official designation is "tribal allowances." In plain 
English, the payments are mostly bribes. I have even seen 
the word " blackmail " used to describe them. Lord Curzon, 
when he addressed the men of the frontier at Peshawar, said 
that the allowances were "for keeping open the roads and 
passes, for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity, and 
for the punishment of crime." The services thus rendered 
are on the whole exiguous, and there is no evading the fact 
that in addition to our military and police precautions, we 
also pay the tribesmen to keep quiet, just as the Moguls 
and the Sikhs did. We have always done so, and the 
difference between the present and the past is that 
formerly we" paid them and they refused to keep quiet. 
The tribal allowances have the advantage that the threat of 
their withdrawal often stops truculence. The sum expended 
is not large in proportion to the numbers of the tribesmen, 
and it has to be remembered that if we give bribes, we 
sometimes exact heavy fines. 

During the whole of Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty, the 

54 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIEU 

peace of the frontier was only once broken. The offending 
tribe was the Mahsud Waziris, perhaps the most savage and 
untameable men on the frontier, who committed a series of 
outrages which required punishment. Lord Curzon refused 
to sanction an expedition, but resorted to the expedient of a 
blockade, coupled with a series of swift blows at Mahsud 
villages. The method was not new, for it is on record that 
at the time of the Mutiny nearly every important frontier 
tribe was under blockade ; but on this occasion it was 
eminently successful. The Mahsuds craved for peace, and 
it was granted. They are still in need of a salutary lesson, 
which may be given them ere long. It is therefore worth 
noting that Lord Curzon was never under any illusion about 
the condition of the Mahsuds, but at the close of the 
blockade expressed the opinion that further coercive measures 
against them would be ultimately necessary. His system 
led to a great saving in expenditure. In seven years he only 
spent £248,000 on military movements on the North- West 
Frontier, as against £4,584,000 during the years 1894-98. 
The peace he brought to the frontier has been continued 
with only one break during Lord Minto's Viceroyalty. The 
rising of the Mohmands and the Zakka Khel in 1908 was 
due partly to resentment at the construction of the Loi- 
Shilman Railway, of which more anon, and partly to insti- 
gation from Afghanistan, the origin of which is not obscure. 
The risings were rapidly suppressed by Sir James Willcocks, 
and the fact that they did not spread afforded the best proof 
of the strength and solidity of Lord Curzon's policy. 

The military and police measures thus described led in 
their turn to the introduction of a still larger measure of 
reform, the creation of the North- West Frontier Province. 
From the time the Punjab was annexed, the control of the 
frontier had been vested in the Punjab Government. For 
many years there had been a growing feeling that the system 
was unsatisfactory. The Viceroy and the Government of 
India were really responsible for frontier administration. 

55 



i 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

They had to declare war and make peace, to decide poHcy 
and to direct military and political advances. When disasters 
occurred, they were quite properly called to account. The 
public and the Press in England took no heed of the Punjab 
Government, but looked to the Viceroy to guard and pacify 
the frontier. Yet the Viceroy had no direct control, and 
was compelled to issue orders through his authorised inter- 
mediary, the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab. The 
officers upon whom the issues of peace and war might 
depend were not his choice ; they were appointed from 
Lahore. The Viceroy might, and frequently did, direct, 
advise, or admonish the Punjab Government upon frontier 
affairs, but if he wanted to initiate a change of policy upon 
the frontier he had to leave the Punjab authorities to carry 
out his wishes. The most delicate and difficult branch of 
the administration of India was in the hands of a group of pro- 
vincial officials, already overwhelmed by the growth of their 
internal duties, and unable to give either the time or the care 
which was necessary to the proper control of the frontier. 

With the lapse of years such a system brought about 
inevitable consequences. It was simple enough in the days 
immediately following annexation, when young officers like 
Edwardes and Nicholson were flung to the frontier and left 
to fend for themselves. After the earlier stages of British 
rule in the Punjab, the methods adopted were less primitive 
and more fettered. Good men still won their way to the 
frontier, but so also, in the natural course of promotion, did 
men who were better quahfied for the ordinary adminis- 
trative work of more pacific and civilised districts. All alike 
had to submit their reports, and to appeal for instructions, 
to the Punjab Secretariat, manned by officials who generally 
knew very little of frontier conditions. Lord Curzon 
pointed out that five successive Lieutenant-Governors and 
five Chief Secretaries of the Punjab had, with one limited 
exception, no political experience upon the frontier. It was 
not surprising, therefore, that the Punjab Government 

56 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

usually had no frontier policy. Its dominating instinct 
seemed to be to evade responsibility in frontier affairs. The 
Secretariat became a post-office. Every issue that appeared 
to involve possible difficulty was promptly referred to the 
Government of India for settlement. The process brought 
about interminable delays, because the Government of India 
— itself not always the most expeditious of organisations — 
was compelled to send back its decisions through the Punjab 
Secretariat. The climax came in the episodes which attended 
the outbreak of the frontier war of 1897. The Punjab 
Government not only completely misjudged the situation, 
but was entirely unprepared for the conflagration which 
followed. When it reported the conditions as " reassuring " 
after villages had been burned almost at the gates of 
Peshawar, when it recalled the only British officer in the 
Khyber and left the brave Khyber Rifles to their fate, it 
was seen that the days of Punjab control over the frontier 
were numbered. 

Yet it would be unfair, in reviewing the circumstances, 
to blame the Punjab Government too severely for the 
weakness of its frontier administration in later years. It 
was conscious that the old order of things had passed, never 
to return. Whatever measures it might take upon the 
frontier, the last word lay more than ever with Simla. 
Successive Viceroys had necessarily sought to gain an 
increasing grip upon frontier affairs. If the Punjab Govern- 
ment had no definite and ordered frontier policy, it was 
largely because it knew that the final policy adopted would 
be only that which commended itself to the Government of 
India. If it referred every difficult point to the supreme 
authorities, it was because it had found that decisions were 
constantly taken out of its hands. If it incurred odium 
because the Commissioner of Peshawar left the Khyber 
Rifles to their fate, the local military authorities, who were 
unwilling to march to the relief of the Khyber, were even 
more culpably to blame. The Punjab Government had, 

57 



li^DlA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

until towards the close of its control, a creditable record 
upon the frontier. It failed at the end because the issues 
at stake had become Imperial, and could not be effectually 
handled by a provincial administration. The affairs of the 
settled and civilised portions of the Punjab had grown 
complex and absorbing. Problems of revenue adminis- 
tration, the creation of canal colonies, the normal business 
of a huge and populous province, occupied the time and 
energy of the Lieutenant-Governor and his assistants. 
Frontier questions had always been rather outside the 
routine of their daily lives. The moment had arrived 
when the creation of a separate frontier administration, 
dealing directly with the Government of India, was 
imperative, and could no longer be delayed. 

Ever since the British had come into contact with the 
frontier, the idea of a separate frontier province had been 
repeatedly suggested. Lord Dalhousie had at first intended 
to create it at once, because he saw that the dwellers beyond 
the Indus were ethnically divided from the people of the 
Punjab proper. It is said that he abandoned the proposal 
because Colonel IVIackeson, to whom he had desired to entrust 
the new province, was assassinated at Peshawar. Lord 
Lytton revived the scheme in 1877 in one of the ablest 
Minutes ever written upon frontier administration. He 
contemplated the creation of a vast province stretching to 
the sea, and including Baluchistan. His plan was unwieldy 
in dimensions, and it was also impracticable because it 
provided for a dual control by the Viceroy and the Punjab 
Government. The outbreak of the second Afghan War 
caused it to be abandoned. When in 1893 Sir Mortimer 
Durand came to an agreement with the Ameer Abdur 
Rahman about the demarcation of the political frontier 
between India and Afghanistan, the project for a separate 
province was once more brought forward. Lord Lansdowne 
was in favour of " a single frontier charge," but left India 
before he was able to deal with the question. The war in 

.58 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

Tirah afterwards made it urgent. Lord George Hamilton, 
in 1898, impressed upon Lord Elgin that the Government 
of India must exercise a more direct control over the frontier 
tribes. He suggested a system of dual control very much 
resembling that proposed by Lord Lytton. Lord Elgin 
entered into a correspondence with the Punjab Government, 
and received a number of replies from prominent officers, 
nearly all of whom proved to their own satisfaction that the 
existing system should not be disturbed. Some of them 
admitted, however, that the only alternative was the 
creation of a separate province. The letters went home 
to the Secretary of State, accompanied by a despatch from 
Lord Elgin, who was opposed to radical change. The 
question was therefore temporarily in abeyance when Lord 
Curzon became Viceroy. 

LordCurzon dealt with the whole problem in August 1900, 
in an unusually comprehensive and vigorous Minute. It was 
said afterwards that the Viceroy had written the Minute as 
though he was answering a political opponent. The insinua- 
tion was to some extent justified, but there was need for 
forcible expression. Lord Curzon knew very well the inertia 
and the positive resistance which he had to overcome. For 
fifty years people had talked of the reform, but no one had 
done anything. He was determined to complete his scheme 
of frontier policy by the creation of a new province. It was 
one of his first " twelve labours." He swept aside the 
proposal to take Sind from the Presidency of Bombay, and 
give it to the Punjab by way of "compensation." He 
proposed to make a province consisting of the trans-Indus 
districts of Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, and Dera Ismail Khan, 
together with the political agencies of Dir, Swat, and 
Chitral, the Khyber, the Kurram, the Tochi, and Wana. 
To these areas was afterwards added the cis- Indus district 
of Hazara, because its population was chiefly tribal. Practi- 
cally the Punjab Government ceased to exercise any 
jurisdiction west of the Indus, except in the settled district 

59 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of Dera Ghazi Khan, far to the south. The new provmce 
included the long narrow strip of level territory beyond the 
Indus, and the whole of the vast mountainous region up to 
the frontier of Afghanistan. It has an area of 38,665 square 
miles, of which 13,193 are within the administrative frontier. 
The population is estimated at nearly four millions, largely 
Pathan, and nearlv all of the Mussulman faith. 

The appearance of Lord Curzon's scheme, which was 
cordially endorsed by his Council and by the Secretary of 
State, aroused a tempest of opposition among the older civil 
servants in the Punjab. Sir Mackworth Young, the 
Lieutenant-Governor, complained that his government had 
not been consulted, and that its elimination implied " a most 
dangerous doctrine." The reply that the Punjab authorities 
had been amply consulted by Lord Elgin was not adequate, 
because Lord Elgin had not contemplated the great scheme 
inaugurated by Lord Curzon. The practice of ignoring the 
Lieutenant-Governors, or of only consulting them when it 
suits the convenience of a Viceroy or a Secretary of State, is 
very much to be deprecated. Lord Minto followed the 
same course more recently, when he approved of the 
proposal to create Provincial Executive Councils, without 
having taken the views of the Lieutenant-Governors, who 
were chiefly concerned. At the same time, the indignation 
of the Punjab Government, relating as it did to a point of 
etiquette rather than to the merits of the scheme, was 
somewhat querulous. One Punjab civilian of eminence 
resigned as a protest. In London Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick, a 
member of the Secretary of State's Council, and a former 
Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, wrote a Minute of partial 
dissent, the effect of which was largely vitiated by a frank 
preliminary expression of approval of the principle of Lord 
Curzon's proposal. These ebullitions, though they might 
have been to some extent averted had Lord Curzon taken 
the Punjab Government into his confidence, were in any 
case expected. They did not last long. I have some 

GO 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

ground for expressing my belief that there is not to-day a 
single senior civilian on the active list in the Punjab who is 
not prepared to admit that the excision of the trans- Indus 
territories was a wise and beneficent reform. 

The new " North- ^ Vest Frontier Province " was in- 
augurated on King Edward's birthday in 1901, the 
old " North- West Provinces " being rechristened " The 
United Provinces of Agra and Oudh." The first Com- 
missioner was Lieutenant - Colonel Deane, afterwards 
Sir Harold Deane, a frontier oflficer of great experience. 
He died in 1908, and was succeeded by Sir George Roos- 
Keppel, a gallant soldier who first won distinction by his 
daring counter-raids against marauding tribesmen. More 
recently the province has been under the temporary control 
of Mr. W. R. H. JNlerk, a civilian whose wide knowledsre 
of frontier and trans-frontier conditions unquestionably 
exceeds that of any other civil official recently in India. 
With the exception of the brief interlude of the campaign 
of 1908, the history of the province has been one of steady 
tranquillity and development. Its principal defect is that, 
as was foreseen by the Punjab Government, its land revenue 
administration in the settled tracts is unsatisfactory. The 
land tenures along the frontier are complicated, and need 
delicate handling which they have only partially obtained. 
In a province primarily created and manned to handle 
people and issues beyond the administrative boundary, the 
ordinary details of civil administration are apt to be some- 
what disregarded. Time will no doubt rectify these draw- 
backs, and meanwhile the province has more than justified 
its existence. The rapidity with which frontier affairs are 
now decided, the vigilance exercised in the suppression of 
crime, and the better and more intimate relations now exist- 
ing between the authorities and the frontier chiefs and head- 
men, form a marked contrast to previous conditions. The 
whole system, in practice and in spirit, approximates more 
nearly to the traditions of Nicholson and Edwardes. A 

61 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

special feature of Sir George Roos-Keppel's administration 
has been his efforts to associate Mussulmans of good family- 
more closely with executive duties. 

The inauguration of the frontier province rounded off 
and completed Lord Curzon's work upon the North- West 
Frontier. It is not suggested here that he presented a new 
and miraculous solution of the frontier problem, or that his 
discerning vision saw a way hidden from other men. Much 
of his scheme had been propounded before in varying forms, 
many of his expedients had been tried in tentative and 
piecemeal fashion. The only part of the solution which was 
essentially his own — but it was fundamental — was his reso- 
lute application to the Pathan tribes of the principles of 
co-operation and trust which Sir Robert Sandeman had 
practised with so much success with the Baluchis. Many 
experts declared that the Sandeman method was impossible 
among Pathans. Lord Curzon proved that it was not. To 
him also was directly due the determination never to leave 
regular forces in adv^anced and insecure positions. For the 
rest, his great achievement upon the frontier was that while 
other men had talked of reforms, he carried them out. His 
co-ordinating brain pieced together every section of the prob- 
lem. He laid down permanent principles for the control 
of frontier affairs. He was severely practical, and rejected 
the grandiose conceptions of Lord Lytton. He was cautious, 
and opposed the eager rashness of the " forward " party. 
He was economical, because every part of the scheme was 
scrupulously frugal. He had everything in his favour, for 
the time was ripe for the change, but a man of less dynamic 
energy might have failed to accomplish it. His defects of 
procedure were characteristic. He saw only the end in 
view, and never paused till it was reached. His aims were 
essentially unaggressive, and it may be truly said that 
during his Viceroyalty, and since he left India, he has 
always sought to exercise a restraining influence in frontier 
policy. His solution may not endure, and he has never 

62 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

expressed any belief in its permanence. The enormous influx 
of arms and ammunition among the frontier tribes since his 
departure has largely altered frontier conditions. But he gave 
India the longest peace upon her North- West Frontier which 
she has ever known, and the system he devised is still un- 
shaken. 

IV. AFGHANISTAN 

An examination of the relations between Great Britain 
and Afghanistan during and after Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty 
necessarily forms part of any consideration of the problem 
of the North- West Frontier. When Lord Curzon reached 
India, the Amir Abdur Rahman, whose acquaintance he had 
previously made in Kabul, was still ruler of Afghanistan. 
Great Britain had placed Abdur Rahman upon his throne 
in 1880, after the Afghan War. At that time, the Amir 
was assured that his British neighbours had no wish to 
interfere with the internal control of his country. If any 
foreign Power committed acts of aggression upon Afghani- 
stan, the British Government undertook to come to his aid 
in the manner it thought best. The Amir accepted these 
assurances, and in return agreed to follow the advice of 
Great Britain regarding his external relations. He was 
granted a subsidy of about £80,000 a year. The assurances 
were repeated and again accepted at the time of the Durand 
Agreement in 1893, when the subsidy was increased to about 
£120,000 a year. There was never any formal Treaty on 
the subject, but the Amir's relations with foreign Powers 
were conducted through Great Britain. The Russian 
Government, in particular, had repeatedly informed the 
British Foreign Office that it regarded Afghanistan as 
beyond the sphere of its political action. Our policy towards 
Afghanistan was very simple. We wanted to maintain it 
as a buffer state. We had no desire to obtain territorial 
advantages in the Amir's dominions, but only sought to 
keep others out. It was to our interest that the Afghans 

63 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

should be strong enough to resist aggression, and therefore 
we helped their ruler with funds. The country remained 
practically closed to us, as it did to other nations, and our 
only important representative within its borders was, and 
still is, a Mahomedan agent at Kabul. 

It cannot be said that the Amir Abdur Rahman showed 
any gratitude to Great Britain for restoring him his kingdom. 
He accepted our money, but he was careful to hold us at 
arm's length. After he had made himself secure, and had 
raised an army, he very much disliked being compelled to 
correspond with the Government of India. He thought his 
dignity required a representative at the Court of St. James's, 
and was bitterly disappointed when the visit of his second 
son, NasruUah Khan, to London in 1895 failed to secure for 
him the desired pri\dlege. Towards the end of his reign he 
was convinced, after the arrogant fashion of all Afghans, 
that his army would suffice to repel a Russian invasion. 
He considered that Great Britain should help him with 
money and arms alone. He affected to disregard the pledge 
of Great Britain to march an army into his country if it was 
invaded. His letters to the Government of India were 
frequently written in the vein of thinly veiled impertinence 
in which the Afghan excels. He throttled trade between 
his people and India. He intrigued frequently with the 
tribes on the British side of the frontier. His tacit en- 
couragement of the tribesmen, and his sudden plunge into 
religious propaganda after the Turco-Greek War, were 
unquestionably contributory causes of the rising in Tirah. 
Yet Abdur Rahman was full of contradictions. On the 
whole, he fulfilled the most important of his pledges, and 
his policy served our purpose. Though he treated Great 
Britain with scant courtesy, and sometimes with question- 
able honesty, there is no reason to suppose that he ever 
seriously intrigued with another Power. His chief aim was 
to surround Afghanistan with a ring fence. 

The relations between Abdur Rahman and Lord 

64 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

Curzon's Government were neither very good nor very 
bad. Under the Durand Agreement he had received per- 
mission to import munitions of war through British India, 
and he availed himself of the privilege to an alarming extent. 
Some of his warlike supplies were detained in India after 
the Tirah War, and Lord Curzon released them upon his 
arrival. The Amir showed no disposition to be equally 
complaisant about various minor questions in dispute 
between himself and the Government of India. Quite a 
number of petty quarrels, and one or two differences of 
serious moment, remained unsettled when he died in 
October 1901. 

The accession of his eldest son HabibuUah raised fresh 
issues of the very highest importance. The agreement 
between Abdur Rahman and the British Government 
regarding the defence of Afghanistan was purely personal. 
It was in no sense dynastic, nor could it be so in a semi- 
barbarous country where the death of the ruler was some- 
times the signal for bloodshed among rival claimants to the 
throne. The same qualification applied to the subsidy, 
which was not a grant to Afghanistan, but a personal 
allowance to the Amir Abdur Rahman. The new Amir 
soon disposed of the difficulty about the subsidy, for he 
studiously refrained from attempting to draw it. The 
problem of the future relations between Great Britain and 
Afghanistan was far more perplexing. HabibuUah showed 
no disposition to admit that the engagements between the 
two countries had terminated upon the death of his father. 
He insisted that they were still in existence, and argued 
that there was therefore no need for their renewal. He 
declined various invitations to visit India and discuss the 
matter with the Viceroy, his usual plea being that he could 
not leave his dominions. His demeanour in the early days 
of his rule was by no means promising. He left a great 
deal of power in the hands of his brother, Nasrullah Khan, 
and sometimes took no part at all in business of state. His 

65 £ 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

predilections appeared to attract him in some respects 
towards Russia rather than Great Britain, but there was no 
clear indication that he had any definite policy at all. He 
failed to maintain discipline among his troops, but professed 
a childish belief in their prowess. He peremptorily contended 
that he still possessed the right to import munitions of war 
through India, and the detention of a large consignment 
of gun-forgings at Peshawar filled him with anger. His 
mind afterwards became almost incredibly inflated by the 
stories of the successes of the Japanese in Manchuria, which 
probably had more effect upon the Afghans than upon any 
other race in Asia. 

The situation had practically reached a deadlock in 1904, 
when Lord Curzon went on leave to England. HabibuUah 
would not visit India, he had taken up an obdurate position 
about the undertakings given to his father, and he did not 
hesitate to assert in vainglorious moments that he was as 
powerful a monarch as the Emperor of Japan. It was 
understood when Lord Curzon sailed that the Afghanistan 
difficulty was one of the questions upon which he would 
consult the Home Government. During his absence, and 
while Lord Ampthill was acting as Viceroy, the Govern- 
ment of India became more clearly aware of the exact 
attitude of the Amir, which had previously been wrapped in 
some obscurity. It conceived the idea of sending a special 
Mission to Kabul to discuss the whole situation with the 
Amir, and the Home Government, after consultation with 
Lord Curzon, acquiesced. Mr. Dane, afterwards Sir Louis 
Dane, Foreign Secretary, was appointed as the head of the 
Mission. The Amir expressed himself willing to receive it, 
and promised to send his son, Inayatulla Khan, sixteen 
years of age, to meet Lord Curzon on his return to India. 
The visit of Inayatulla Khan, which duly occurred at the 
close of the year, had small political significance. 

There can be little doubt now that the whole conception 
of the Kabul Mission was a mistake, and it is no secret that 

66 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

it nearly developed into a blunder of still larger proportions. 
Lord Kitchener was at that period very much preoccupied 
with the problem of strengthening the defences of India 
against the possibility of a Russian invasion. He saw 
clearly that in the event of a Russian advance the army 
of India could not await attack behind its political frontier. 
The battleground would have to be chosen in Afghanistan. 
He further saw that it would fall to the lot of the Afghan 
forces to delay the Russian advance until the British troops 
arrived, and that despite the pretensions of the Amir, his 
regiments were tolerably certain to be scattered like chaff 
before the wind. These considerations were purely strategic, 
but at that period they were regarded as by no means 
academic. The Russian menace had not then receded. 
Lord Kitchener was therefore anxious that the Amir should 
accept British assistance in the training of his army, and 
that he should agree to certain proposals for the improve- 
ment of the communications with Kabul. He suggested 
that the Mission should invite the military co-operation of 
the Amir on the lines he had laid down. From the military 
point of view, Lord Kitchener's contentions were doubtless 
unanswerable, but politically they were impossible, especially 
in view of the temper of the Amir. They were eventually 
vetoed, but two members of Lord Kitchener's staff accom- 
panied the Mission to Kabul. 

Sir Louis Dane reached Kabul on December 12, 1904. 
He expected to remain there a fortnight, but as a matter of 
fact he did not take leave of the Amir until March 29. 
No British envoy was ever placed in a more humiliating 
position. The Amir treated the Mission with perfect 
courtesy at personal interviews, and his private notes to Sir 
Louis Dane were extremely cordial. But the negotiations 
were chiefly conducted by letter, and the official correspon- 
dence of the Amir was deftly insolent and overbearing. 
The Mission was left in comparative isolation during the 
greater part of its stay in Kabul. Very few Afghans of note 

67 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

called upon its members, and it was apparently shunned by 
order. Habibullah appeared to be bent upon utilising the 
occasion to impress his subjects with a sense of his own 
greatness. The whole city knew that he had declined to 
visit India, and that at last the Government of India had 
sent visitors to him. He treated them as though they were 
suppliants at his palace gates. It was a situation that should 
not have been tolerated for a single week. 

The object of the Mission was twofold. Sir Louis Dane, 
it was understood, was to arrange a settlement of the out- 
standing differences between the Amir and the Government 
of India, and was then to conclude a Treaty renewing the 
arrangements which had existed between Great Britain and 
Abdur Rahman. He went to Kabul with a draft Treaty in 
his pocket. The lirst difficulty arose when it was found that 
Habibullah's mind was full of the wildest visions of military 
glory. His thoughts still ran upon Japan. Then he placidly 
announced that he proposed to draft a Treaty himself, and 
he did so in ornate Persian. The difference between the 
two Treaties was that whereas Sir Louis Dane's implied a 
fresh series of engagements on the old lines, the Amir's 
expressly provided for a continuance of the arrangements 
entered into with Abdur Rahman. It is not generally 
known that it was in this draft Treaty that the Amir first 
conferred upon himself the equivalent of " His Majesty." 
There was a precedent for the designation, though not of 
recent date. The last of the Durani dynasty was styled 
" King of Kabul," and Mountstuart Elphinstone always 
wrote of him as " His Majesty." 

At this stage, which was reached within three weeks of 
Sir Louis Dane's arrival in Kabul, a veil passes over the 
proceedings. It was clear that a further deadlock had been 
reached. It is not so clear now that the Amir was wholly 
without arguments in support of his case. Literally inter- 
preted the understanding with Abdur Rahman was personal, 
but Habibullah may well have remembered that a Treaty 

68 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

between Great Britain and Dost Mahomed was regarded as 
holding good with his successor, Shere Ali, without a specific 
renewal. Yet the contention of the Government of India 
was by no means unimportant. Though the general character 
of the proposed mutual engagements was never in dispute, 
it seemed essential to know with whom they were made. A 
Treaty with the Barakzai dynasty, and not with an individual, 
might pledge Great Britain to unknown possibilities. 
Habibullah's rule seemed at that time not very secure, and 
he was very much in the hands of his brother, who was 
credited with aspiring to the throne. The governing factor 
of the situation, however, was the exacting and uncompro- 
mising attitude of Habibullah. He wanted every advantage 
and would concede nothing. The sum of £400,000 in 
subsidies had accumulated since his father's death, and he 
claimed it as belonging to him by right. He refused to 
discuss the subsidiary questions in dispute, and to the very 
end they were never considered or settled. He insisted that 
he possessed the privilege of importing munitions of war 
through British India without let or hindrance. Sir Louis 
Dane had to choose between giving way to the Amir on 
every point or leaving Kabul without a Treaty at all. 

For weeks the Mission loitered idly — and somewhat 
humbly — in Kabul, while messages passed between Simla 
and London. It was understood at the time, and stated in 
print, that Lord Curzon and the Government of India 
objected strongly to surrendering at all points to the Amir. 
Mr. Brodrick, who had become Secretary of State for India, 
was said to have induced the Home Government to take a 
different view. He wanted some sort of Treaty, and was 
apparently indifferent as to its provisions. The end came 
suddenly when March was nearly over. The Amir's draft 
was swallowed wholesale, " Majesty " and florid Persian and 
all the accompaniments. He secured the arrears of the 
subsidy and the unrestricted privilege of importing arms. 
He never rectified a single salient grievance brought forward 

69 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

by the Government of India. He had gained his own way 
in every respect, and it was not surprising that his farewell to 
the Mission was overwhelmingly affable. 

Sir Louis Dane was perhaps too severely blamed by the 
Press for his handling of the negotiations, but he was chiefly 
criticised because he was indiscreet enough to claim that the 
Mission was a triumphant success. Its real result was 
temporarily to lower British prestige in Afghanistan to 
a level it had never reached for many years. The Amir 
had flouted everybody, and his pretensions had been 
accepted with meek subservience. Sir Louis Dane was 
not, perhaps, an ideal envoy, but it must be admitted that 
he was placed in an almost impossible position from the 
outset. Every one realised too late that the Mission ought 
never to have been sent. Its meagre results might have been 
just as easily accomplished by an interchange of letters. 

Two years later, early in 1907, the Amir paid a visit to 
India and made an excellent impression. When one 
contrasts his attitude towards the Kabul Mission with his 
invaraible bearing during his Indian tour, he becomes some- 
thing of an enigma. He is a short, stout man, with every 
mark of health and temperate living. His face is frank and 
open and sun-burned, with a ruddy tinge. His complexion 
is fair; I have seen bearded Italians who looked darker. 
The expression is good-humoured, smiHng and alert, the eyes 
full and often merry. On his first arrival he seemed rather 
ready to resent fancied slights upon his dignity. There was 
some question as to whether he should receive the title he 
had written in the Treaty, but it was promptly settled by a 
telegram from King Edward greeting him as " your Majesty." 
The Amir was welcomed by Lord Minto at Agra and 
afterwards at Calcutta, and when the ceremonial gatherings 
were over he took the greatest delight in mixing in English 
society in an informal manner. He was deeply impressed by 
the large force of troops he reviewed at Agra, but his first 
glimpse of the sea did not interest him, and he could hardly 

70 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

be persuaded to inspect the warships assembled in Bombay 
Harbour. So far as is known, the visit had no poUtical 
results, but it promoted friendly relations, and increased the 
respect in which the Amir is held. 

Shortly after the Amir's tour in India, the conclusion of 
the Anglo-Russian Convention was announced. It con- 
tained five articles concerning Afghanistan. Great Britain 
declared that it had no intention of changing the political 
status of Afghanistan, and Russia renewed its frequent 
announcement that Afghanistan was " outside the sphere of 
Russian influence." It was agreed that the Russian and 
Afghan frontier authorities might settle between themselves 
"local questions of a non-political character," and both 
Governments affirmed the principle of " equality of com- 
mercial opportunity in Afghanistan." The Afghanistan 
articles were only to come into force when the consent of 
the Amir was obtained. They were, it may be said at 
once, the most questionable provisions of the Convention. 
It soon became known that they had been settled without 
consulting the Amir, and that he was very wrath because 
he had been io^nored. He had handed over the control of 
his external relations to the British Government, but he had 
not abandoned his right to be consulted. Sir Edward 
Grey's explanation was, in effect, that if he had not con- 
cluded the Convention at once it might never have been 
signed at all, and that he could not face the interminable 
delays which consultation with the Amir would have in- 
volved. His motive was explicable, but hardly convincing. 
Nothing in British relations with Afghanistan warrants the 
British Government in settling, for instance, the Amir's 
trading arrangements without reference to him. Lord 
Curzon, who opposed most of the provisions of the Conven- 
tion, riddled the Afghanistan articles in a speech in the 
House of Lords on February 6, 1908. He condemned 
negotiations which appeared to give Russia a voice in British 
relations with the Amir, and asked why Great Britain should 

71 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

have consented to direct communications between Russian 
and Afghan frontier officials when similar intercourse was 
discouraged by the Amir on the Indian frontier. I may add 
that, in view of the difficulty of obtaining the Amir's con- 
sent, there appears no strong reason why any provisions 
concerning Afghanistan should have been included in 
the Convention at all. Both Powers had previously 
exchanged repeated and definite assurances regarding 
Afghan territory. The resentment of the Amir might 
have been foreseen. He has never given formal ap- 
proval to the Convention, though both Great Britain 
and Russia have agreed to regard the Afghanistan section 
as operative. 

The Anglo-Russian Convention placed a strain upon 
our already dubious relations with Afghanistan which has 
never been entirely relieved. It is difficult to contemplate 
our limited intercourse with Habibullah with much com- 
placency. Except during the period of his visit to India, 
his normal attitude has been frequently marked by studied 
discourtesy, and often by contempt. His people wander far 
and wide in India, but he refuses to open his country to 
English travellers or traders. We are committed to the 
deepest obligations to defend his territories, and he makes 
no adequate provision for joining in their protection. He 
has never faithfully observed the stipulation of the Durand 
Agreement, and he shows no inclination to do so. From 
time to time he receives mullahs and headmen from the 
tribal country at Kabul, and his subordinates meddle in 
affairs upon the British side of the frontier with assiduous 
zeal. The revolt of the Mohmands and the Zakka Khel 
in 1908 was encouraged from Afghanistan, and subjects 
of the Amir joined in the fighting around Lundi Kotal. 
Habibullah was ostentatiously reticent about these intrigues 
and incursions, of which he pleaded ignorance, but he cannot 
avoid responsibility for the acts of his officials. It does not 
make the position any easier that we, on our part, have by 

72 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

our negotiations with Russia given him considerable cause 
for resentment. 

The redeeming feature of the situation is that, in spite 
of the drawbacks I have stated, the principle of the buffer 
state is on the whole faithfully preserved. Our connection 
with Afghanistan is not very dignified, but we still secure 
our main object. There are recent signs of improvement in 
one direction, for with the approval of the Amir a joint 
Indo- Afghan Commission has travelled along the Durand 
line trying to settle disputes arising out of raids and counter- 
raids on each side of the border. Again, the Amir's rule is 
much stronger than it was at the time of the Kabul Mission, 
and Nasrullah Khan, who is now on excellent terms with 
his brother, is not regarded as a possible usurper. Never- 
theless, the position and attitude of the Amir must always 
remain a question of peculiar solicitude and anxiety to the 
Government of India. The stability of his throne is probably 
now beyond question, but his internal policy is not always 
economically sound. By seeking to turn into personal 
monopolies every profitable branch of the external trade of 
his kingdom, he is ruining a once lucrative source of 
revenue. He has at times found a strong objection to pay 
taxation among his subjects in his outlying provinces. The 
Shinwaris, for instance, had until recently paid no taxes for 
years, and had almost declared their independence. There 
were at one time grave disorders in the district of Khost. 
The regular army, upon which the Amir alone depends, 
is really a mercenary force, and its loyalty is chiefly main- 
tained by the regularity with which it is paid. It is now 
being trained by two or three Turks. The large number 
of Afghan refugees banished by his father, whom Habi- 
bullah has recalled from India with promises of main- 
tenance, constitute a heavy drain upon his exchequer. His 
personal expenditure is lavish, and he disburses large sums 
upon somewhat unproductive expedients for internal im- 
provement. The heavy subsidy he receives is undoubtedly 

73 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

welcome, and he now draws it regularly. Afghanistan is a 
poor country, and must always remain so until it is properly 
developed. The establishment of the Habeebiya University 
at Kabul, the recent introduction of a telephone system 
along the Jellalabad-Kabul route, the construction of one or 
two main roads, the inauguration of a motor service, and 
the tentative efforts to open up deposits of coal and iron 
near Kabul, scarcely compensate for the reluctance of the 
Amir to undertake the development of his kingdom upon 
a broad and systematic basis. Yet his difficulties are great, 
for he has to contend against the obstinate conservatism of 
his Sirdars. His own instincts are progressive. He says he 
is the ablest man in his kingdom, and I fancy his artless 
statement is correct. 

If the political outlook in Afghanistan is not wholly 
encouraging, the military problem it presents is still more 
perplexing. It is always within the bounds of possibility that, 
from one of various causes, a British force may have to enter 
Afghanistan. Lord Roberts marched from the Kurram to 
Kabul in 1 879 with 6000 men. No British general would now 
dream of entering the country with such a limited force. The 
number would be very insufficient to operate against the 
Afghans, who are far better armed than they were in the 
seventies. It would be ludicrously inadequate against an in- 
vader from beyond the Oxus. The two routes by which British 
forces would enter Afghanistan from the Punjab side are 
probably the Kurram and the Khyber. Of these routes the 
Khyber is the easiest, the most direct, and the most important. 
The advance from the Khyber could not be undertaken with 
less than two divisions with any margin of safety. Another 
division would be required to hold the line of communica- 
tion. There are two roads through the Khyber, and a third, 
the Mullagori road, runs at the back of the hills forming the 
northern side of the pass. The IMuUagori road was built by 
Lord Curzon, after Colonel Warburton, for so many years 
the warden of the Khyber, had in vain appealed to successive 

74 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

Administrations to construct it. I am assured by ex- 
perienced soldiers that it would be impossible to keep two 
divisions supplied by these three roads, whicli all unite 
beyond Landi Kotal at the point of the steep and narrow 
descent into Afghanistan ; and having seen something of 
the locality, I can well believe it. 

Lord Kitchener, after his examination of the Khyber, 
was quick to perceive the difficulty of entering Afghanistan 
from the direction of the pass. He advocated the construc- 
tion of a broad-gauge railway on the north of the Khyber 
from a point beyond Peshawar to the political frontier, 
alternative routes for which had been twice surveyed before 
his arrival. I will not enter into the confusing intricacies of 
frontier geography, but will simply say that the route Lord 
Kitchener recommended followed the course of the Kabul 
River for some distance, and then diverged through the 
Loi-Shilman country, emerging on the other side of the 
range at a point within easy reach of the Afghan town of 
Dakka. The scheme, had it been completed, would have 
overcome the grave difficulties presented by the obstacle of 
the Khyber hills, and would have left the way clear for an 
advance on Jellalabad and Kabul. Lord Curzon, not 
without some misgivings, had sanctioned the second survey 
for the projected line, and afterwards its construction, but 
urged that it would be desirable to induce the Amir, by a slight 
adjustment of undemarcated frontier, to furnish a site for a 
terminus on the Dakka plain. He left India soon after the 
work was commenced, and while the question of the terminus 
was still unsettled. A portion of the line was duly made, but 
Lord Morley, who had become Secretary of State, eventually 
vetoed its continuance, and the line at present ends " in the 
air." A suggestion by Lord Kitchener for the creation of a 
large cantonment on the Torsappa heights, north of the 
Khyber, was also abandoned. The difficulty of the descent 
to the Dakka plain was never solved. It is beyond question 
that the construction of the Loi-Shilman railway stimulated 

75 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the rising of the Mohmands in 1908. I believe that as a 
military proposition the scheme, supported though not 
initiated by Lord Kitchener, was indisputably right, but 
whether it was politically expedient is quite another 
matter. The Loi-Shilman Railway is an excellent example 
of those issues, so frequently occurring in India and in 
England, wherein the views of soldiers and statesmen 
are fundamentally opposed. It is very difficult to say 
whether the soldier's counsel of perfection, or the states- 
man's warning of expediency, should be followed upon such 
occasions. Had the construction of the Loi-Shilman 
Railway been continued, we should probably have seen 
further tribal risings, and possibly a perilous dispute with 
the Amir. We may not want to advance into Afghanistan 
for the next twenty years. Yet when we move, and the 
Khyber is jammed by baggage trains, ammunition columns, 
supplies of food and forage, and all the enormous impedi- 
menta of a modern army, there will be a shower of execra- 
tions upon the devoted head of the statesman who stopped 
the building of the Loi-Shilman Railway. 

The final complication of the problem of the frontier is 
that of the arms traffic. The enormous influx of arms and 
ammunition among the tribesmen has chiefly occurred since 
Lord Curzon's departure from India, and it constitutes the 
principal menace to the permanence of his solution. From 
the Persian Gulf, and more particularly from the port 
of Muscat, vast quantities of rifles and cartridges have 
been landed on the IVlekran coast and carried overland to the 
tribal country. The growth of the traffic has been most 
marked during the last three or four years. It is 
acknowledged that Sir James Willcocks could not again 
thrash the Mohmands and the Zakka Khel with the ease 
displayed in 1908. It no longer pays the tribesmen to risk 
their lives in order to steal rifles from frontier sentries. 
Martinis, which used to cost on the frontier about £30, 
were recently selling in tribal country for £8 or £9, and 

76 



THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER 

cartridges, which were formerly twopence apiece, could be 
bought for four a penny. Prices have risen again since, in 
the spring of 1910, Admiral Slade interrupted the traffic by 
instituting a patrol of the Mekran coast, and since he 
directed both land and sea operations against gun-runners 
on the same coast in 1911. But the mischief is already 
wrought, and the whole frontier is strewn with gun- 
powder as it never was before. Nor is the unusual pre- 
valence of arms less marked in Afghanistan. The Amir, 
while rearming his regular infantry with '303 rifles, and 
handing over the Martinis to his militia, has sold large stores 
of muzzle-loaders and ammunition to his subjects for three 
or four rupees apiece. On both sides of the frontier all 
those militant peoples, to whom fighting is as the breath of 
life, have been flooded with weapons, many of them of a 
comparatively modern type. They are all races liable to 
swarm into warfare almost without premeditation. Far 
more than any external menace, far more than the occasional 
vagaries of the Amir, the consequences of the arms traffic are 
the greatest cause for apprehension upon the North- West 
Frontier of India to-day. 



77 



Ill 

PERSIA AND TIBET 

I. THE PERSIAN GULF 

The Persian Gulf has a place in the written history of 
mankind immeasurably older than that of any other inland 
sea. I believe it will one day be demonstrated that the first 
dim glimmerings of civilisation dawTied upon the mind of 
primeval man within its landlocked waters. It was the scene 
of great events, which determined the course of progress of 
the human race, while the Mediterranean was probably still 
unfurrowed by the keels of ships. Take a map, and see how 
the Gulf lies at the very centre of the Old World. For many 
decades archgeologists have been probing the mysteries of the 
rise of civilisation. They have dug amid the sites of 
forgotten cities, and in Egypt, Crete, Asia Minor, and 
Babylonia have laid bare the secrets of the morning of the 
world. Every fresh discovery leads them farther back 
through the distant centuries. Their researches among the 
relics of the Babylonians and Assyrians were followed by 
the discovery of the earlier kingdoms of Sumer and Akkad. 
In Crete and in Egypt they are drawing nearer to the days of 
primitive humanity. No one has yet established any unifying 
principle, any common source from whence these successive 
civilisations originally sprang. I conjecture that the hidden 
key to the dawn of civilisation lies in the Persian Gulf, and 
that the races whose very existence we are only now vaguely 
discerning through the mists of time, spread outward from its 
shores, carrying with them the instincts and the tendencies 

78 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

which were presently to found great empires. The tradi- 
tional site of the Garden of Eden communicates by water 
with the head of the Gulf. The legendary being who taught 
writing and agriculture and the arts of good government to 
the peoples on the alluvial plains of the Euphrates delta 
came up " out of the sea." The present theory that the 
Sumerians migrated from the North, and possibly from the 
oases of Central Asia, is still empirical, and not so long ago 
eminent scholars were denying that the Sumerians ever 
existed. Terrien de Lacouperie's belief that the black-haired 
race which peopled China came from the borders of the Gulf 
is not generally accepted, but it is at least tenable. Every 
year makes it clearer that the founders of Egyptian 
civilisation crossed Arabia and the Red Sea. The migra- 
tion of the Phoenicians from the Gulf to Sidon is an 
historical fact, and the ruins of their earlier city of Gerrha, 
on the mainland of Arabia opposite Bahrein, remain 
untouched by pick and shovel. If this broad generalisation 
is ever established, it will gather up and focus many con- 
flicting theories, and will shed almost as much light upon 
the science of the origins of civilisation as the discoveries of 
Darwin and Wallace have thrown upon biology. The idea 
was first faintly and very tentatively suggested by Sir Henry 
Rawlinson, but since his death excavations have revealed 
much that was unknown in his day. 

In more recent eras the Persian Gulf was a great high- 
way of navigation, and must have swarmed with ships in the 
days before Asia lost the secret of the sea. Its waters were 
the most ancient of trade routes between East and West. 
Sennacherib sailed a fleet upon "the Great Sea of the 
Sunrising " to the discomfiture of his foes. The voyage of 
Nearchus, Alexander's daring admiral, is described in records 
many details of which may be verified at the present day. 
For four hundred years Chinese junks traded to the Gulf, 
venturing; to, the Shatt-al-Arab, and later^to the^roadstead^of 
Siraf, or to the first city of Hormuz on the mainland, often 

79 



^ INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

sheltering on their way in the harbour of Bombay. Then 
came the period when the Arabs of the Cahphate took boldly 

I to the sea and steered forth from the Gulf to the " Land of 
Silk," to bring back rich stores of merchandise, and incident- 

L, ally to burn Canton. Sindbad the Sailor was no myth, and 
Basra was the port from which he started on his fascinating 
voyages. City after city rose upon the shores of the Gulf 
and of Oman, waxed rich and prosperous by trade, and waned 
and fell. The advent of Albuquerque in 1507 was perhaps 
the most momentous event that ever occurred in the history 
of the Gulf, and thenceforward it became more or less 
subject to European domination, though the aggression of 
the intruders was often fiercely contested by the Arabs. 
I Only a century ago a small British warship was actually 
[ captured by a swarm of Arab pirates. 

/^* Both historically, and in present interest, the Gulf and its 
approaches have an indefinable attraction w^hich no other 
inland sea, not even the INIediterranean, can be said to excel./ 
Muscat, so often the arena of international disputes, is one 
of the most picturesque places I have ever seen. The town 
lies crammed into a cleft in the huge grim mountain barrier 
of the Arabian coast. The harbour is a lake of deep blue, 
the houses stand on the very verge of the water, and gi'ey 
Portuguese fortresses crown the heights that command it on 
either side. The unscalable steeps of JNIusendam stand 
sentinel over the entrance to the Gulf. Beyond them, 
piercing the heart of the wild volcanic crags of the promon- 
tory, is the wondrous tropical fiord of Elphinstone Inlet, 
nineteen miles long, probably the hottest place on earth, a 
majestic solitude of mountains and deep waters, where the 
hardiest of men cannot live the whole year round. A narrow 
isthmus di\'ides it from Malcolm Inlet, a vast sheet of water 

; of the most brilliant blue, fringed by purple mountains, and 
rarely disturbed by the intrusion of mankind. To penetrate 
these torrid retreats is to reach the loneliest and most 
desolate places in the world ; yet if their chmate were less 

i 80 



/ 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

intolerable, they could shelter the whole British fleet. Then v 
come the yellow sands of the Pirate Coast, where behind 
shallow lagoons linger the descendants of the Arab corsairs 
whose fleets swept the seas, and even menaced the coasts of 
India, until the hand of England fell heavily upon them and 
broke their power for ever. Northward over the pearl banks.^ 
lies the course for the Pearl Islands, and in their desert 
interior stretches, far away to the horizon, a veritable wilder- 
ness of mound tombs, hundreds of thousands of them, still 1 
unexplained, and waiting the day when it will dawn upon 
men of science that in Arabia and its encircling sea, and not 
in Egypt and Chaldea, lie buried the beginnings of ancient 
history. At Koweit, the finest natural harbour in the Gulf, 
still sits in his high chamber, gazing seaward with inscrutable 
eyes, the aged Mubarak, with the face of Richelieu and 
something of Richelieu's ambition yet unquenched within 
. him. The head of the Gulf is a network of deep narrow 
creeks, only partially explored, penetrating into the en- 
croaching alluvial lands, formed from the silt of many 
centuries, a green and fertile region, where Turkey squats 
supine while immeasurable wealth waits to be garnered from 
the fruitful earth. The long rugged coast of Persia is like a 
formidable escarpment, at the foot of which clings the town 
of Bushire, the portal of a trade route leading across wild and 
toilsome ranges. Southward, again, are the deserted ruins of 
the once prosperous cities [of Siraf and Keis, and that deep 
curve opposite Musendam where lie the islands and the 
anchorages and the sweltering beaches of Bunder Abbas, 
(^ which together constitute the key of the Gulf. Bunder 
Abbas has an evil reputation, and in truth it is a feverish 
spot ; but it has its compensations, and when its sleepless 
nights are forgotten the vision of Hormuz across the water, 
incarnadined in the sunset and glowing like a jewel, lingers 
in the memory. There are some who call the Gulf " dull." 
Dull ! It is peopled with the ghosts of all the ages. There 
can be no dullness amid such scenes, and even as the Gulf 

81 F 



I INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

witnessed the dawn of history, so it may yet once more be 
the theatre of events which may move the world. 

Within the Persian Gulf the influence of Great Britain 
reigns supreme. For nearly three hundred years our flag has 
flown upon its waters and on the coast that leads to its narrow 
entrance. It was flying in the Gulf of Oman before the May- 
flower sailed from Plymouth. We have sailed and fought and 
traded and ruled throughout the narrow seas of the Middle 
East until every rival has gone down before us. By innumer- 
able sacrifices of blood and treasure, by the unflinching valour 
of our seamen, by the lonely and forgotten graves upon those 
burning shores, by the very merit and restraint of our con- 
trol, we have earned thrice over the right to keep our para- 
mountcy inviolate. For more than a century we have made 
of the Gulf, by the force and prestige of our arms, a haven 
of peace. There is no fpart of our work in the world that 
can be contemplated with greater satisfaction. W e routed 
out the nests of pirates, captured their strongholds and 
destroyed their fleets. We suppressed slavery, and stopped 
the importation of slaves from Africa. We kept the peace 
between the pirate chiefs and their successors, and bound 
them by a truce to refrain from hostilities at sea, so that to 
this day they are know as the Trucial Chiefs of Oman. Out 
of that permanent truce grew treaties by which they acknow- 
ledge the British Government as their overlords and pro- 
tectors. We established a protectorate over Bahrein, and 
special and preferential relations with Koweit. We saved 
the native dhows from being plundered during the date 
season, and we maintained order at the annual pearl fishery. 
We surveyed the greater part of the Gulf, and at the 
request of Persia we created a sanitary organisation which 
has kept the plague at bay. Our Residents in the Gulf 
have been the arbiters in all the quarrels of the chiefs on 
the Arabian coast, and have time and again averted blood- 
shed. If we were to withdraw, slavery and piracy and kid- 
napping and anarchical strife would reappear to-morrow, 

82 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

just as, according to Sir Bampfylde Fuller, sati would be 
restored immediately in India if our influence vanished. 

Even now the task is not complete. Isolated acts of 
piracy occur every year, and there is probably a small sur- 
reptitious traffic in slaves. Still, these sporadic cases are 
usually swiftly punished, and on the whole our work stands 
good. We have kept the peace unaided and unsupported. 
We have sought no peculiar privileges. We have taken 
no territory. We have held point after point in the Gulf, 
and given them all back. Our flag flies to-day only on a 
patch of land at Basidu, on the island of Kishm, and over 
our telegraph station on the island of Henjam. All nations 
have been able to benefit by our efforts, and trade is un- 
restricted and open to all. But if we have imposed a self- 
denying ordinance upon ourselves, we impose it equally upon 
others. We can brook no rivalry in the Gulf, and above 
all, we cannot contemplate the creation of territorial interests 
by any other Power. 

I shall discuss later the reasons which make it im- 
perative for us to preserve unimpaired our paramountcy 
in the Persian Gulf. Meanwhile, it may be noted that our 
special position there has been the subject of repeated official 
declarations to the others Powers. Of these pronounce- 
ments only two need be quoted. The first was made in the 
House of Lords on May 5, 1903, by Lord Lansdo^vne, then 
Foreign Secretary, who said : 

"I say it without hesitation, we should regard the 
establishment of a naval base or of a fortified port in the 
Persian Gulf by any other Power as a very grave menace to 
British interests, and we should certainly resist it by all the 
means at our disposal." 

That is our INlonroe Doctrine in the Middle East, and 

we have made many sacrifices to establish it. Our purpose 

is to maintain peace and order, and to prevent this inland 

sea from becoming a scene of strife among warring 

nationalities. 

83 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

The second declaration is contained in a despatch written 
by Sir Edward Grey to the British Ambassador at St. Peters- 
burg on August 29, 1907, at the time of the signing of the 
Anglo-Russian Convention. Sir Edward Grey wrote : 

"The arrangement respecting Persia is limited to the 
regions of that country touching the respective frontiers of 
Great Britain and Russia in Asia, and the Persian Gulf is 
not part of those regions, and is only partly in Persian terri- 
tory. It has not therefore been considered appropriate to 
introduce into the Convention a positive declaration respect- 
ing special interests possessed by Great Britain in the Gulf, 
the result of British action in those waters for more than 
a hundred years. 

" His Majesty's Government have reason to believe that 
this question will not give rise to difficulties between the 
two Governments should developments arise which make 
further discussion affecting British interests in the Gulf 
necessary. For the Russian Government have in the course 
of the negotiations leading up to the conclusion of this 
arrangement explicitly stated that they do not deny the 
special interests of Great Britain in the Persian Gulf — a 
statement of which His Majesty's Government have formally 
taken note. 

" In order to make it quite clear that the present arrange- 
ment is not intended to affect the position in the Gulf, and 
does not imply any change of policy respecting it on the 
part of Great Britain, His Majesty's Government think it 
desirable to draw attention to previous declarations of British 
policy, and to reaffirm generally previous statements as to 
British interests in the Persian Gulf and the importance of 
maintaining them. 

*' His Majesty's Government will continue to direct all 
their efforts to the preservation of the status quo in the 
Gulf and the maintenance of British trade ; in doing so, they 
have no desire to exclude the legitimate trade of any other 
Power." 

It is a matter for regret that the Persian Gulf doctrine 
did not find a place among the articles of the Anglo-Russian 

84 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

Convention. The reason assigned by Sir Edward Grey was 
that, as one-half of the coast of the Gulf is Turkish and 
Arabian territory, it was outside the scope of the arrange- 
ment. The explanation is plausible, but not convincing, 
for the position of Great Britain in the Persian Gulf must 
always be the essence of our policy towards Persia. The 
recognition by Russia of our special interests is, however, 
satisfactory, because it embodies an admission never made 
before. 

Lord Curzon, long before he became Viceroy, had taken 
an engrossing interest in Gulf affairs. They had formed the 
subject of a graphic chapter in his book on Persia, wherein 
he made the most vehement affirmation he has ever 
expressed concerning public policy. The words are familiar 
enough now, but they cannot be quoted too often. He 
wrote : 

" I should regard the concession of a port upon the 
Persian Gulf to Russia by any Power as a deliberate insult 
to Great Britain, as a wanton rupture of the status quo, and 
as an intentional provocation to war ; and I should impeach 
the British Minister, who was guilty of acquiescing in such 
a surrender, as a traitor to his country." 

Though that emphatic statement had no official validity, 
it unquestionably represented the spirit of the policy stead- 
fastly pursued by Lord Curzon while he was Viceroy, not 
towards Russia in particular, but towards any Power which 
sought to encroach upon British paramountcy in the Gulf. 
His arrival in India coincided with the commencement of a 
period of unprecedented international activity in the INIiddle 
East, but more especially in Persia and the Persian Gulf. 
Russia was steadily consolidating her influence in Northern 
Persia, and was vigorously and quite openly developing her 
schemes for the construction of a railway to the south and 
for the establishment of a fortified base upon the shores of 
the Indian Ocean. Russian explorers were traversing the 

85 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

trade routes, Russian officers were surveying the coasts and 
roadsteads, and Russian doctors were displaying a compre- 
hensive interest in the Gulf which was certainly not 
explained by the flimsy pretext that they were studying 
plague. France, with whom the memory of the Fashoda 
incident was still rankling, was intriguing at Muscat, and 
was on the point of securing a perfectly unnecessary coaling 
station. Germany, assiduously pressing forward the Bagh- 
dad Railway, was quietly seeking an outlet in the Gulf over 
which she could exercise territorial control. Turkey was 
stealthily endeavouring to undermine the independence of 
Sheikh Mubarak of Koweit, and by threats and actual 
seizures of territory was trying to force him to submit to the 
suzerainty of the Sultan. Half the Powers of Europe 
seemed to be preparing to establish themselves upon the 
flank of India, and to sap British predominance in Gulf 
waters. 

At the very moment that Lord Curzon reached India, the 
French intrigues at Muscat came to a head. France and 
Great Britain had mutually pledged themselves, under the 
Treaty of 1862, to preserve the independence of the 
Sultanate of Oman. The foreign commercial and political 
interests at Muscat had since become almost exclusively 
British, and the Government of India had conferred many 
favours upon the reigning Sultan. He had learned, like his 
predecessors, to depend almost entirely upon British en- 
couragement and support for the maintenance of his rule. 
Great Britain had repeatedly saved previous Sultans from 
menacing rebellions, had removed and interned rival claim- 
ants to the throne, and had helped the Sultans with 
considerable subsidies. Without British recognition, which 
carried great weight with the tribes of Oman, no Sultan 
could hope to maintain his hold even over the towns of Muscat 
and Matra. The present Sultan, Saiyid Faisal, was reason- 
ably well-affected towards Great Britain until France 
established a Consulate at Muscat in 1894. The French 

86 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

Consul, M. Ottavi, had a fluent knowledge of Arabic, and 
a decided talent for back-stairs diplomacy. He was accus- 
tomed to travel in Oman in Arab costume, and he managed 
to gain the confidence of many of the Sheikhs. In course 
of time, through an intermediary, he succeeded in implanting 
in the mind of the Sultan, an inexperienced and impression- 
able potentate, a feeling of pronounced hostility towards 
Great Britain. From this achievement the advance to the 
cession of a naval base was easy, and in November 1898 
the Journal des Debats announced that France had secured 
a coaling station at Bunder Jisseh, a land-locked harbour 
five miles south-east of Muscat. Bunder Jisseh has an 
island across its entrance, and is capable of being fortified. 
It is admitted now that the Sultan thought he might 
improve his own position by juggling with the rivalry then 
existing between France and Great Britain. 

The paragraph in the Debats was not taken very seriously, 
although afterwards it was found that the cession had 
actually been made in the previous March. The French 
Foreign JNIinister, M. Delcasse, told the British Ambassador 
in Paris that he knew nothing about the matter. There is 
some reason to suppose that the French Government was 
really not fully cognisant of the proceedings of M. Ottavi, 
though the degree of its acquaintance with the intrigue 
concerning Bunder Jisseh remains undisclosed. The British 
Political Agent at Muscat was for a long time entirely 
ignorant of the transaction, but various other disputes with 
the Sultan happened to be simultaneously pressing for 
settlement. He had imposed illegal taxes on British 
subjects and had failed to compensate them for losses 
incurred in a rebellion three years before. Colonel Meade, 
the Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, arrived in Muscat 
early in February 1899, to request the Sultan to arrange 
these differences. Meanwhile the Government of India had 
become aware that the cession of Bunder Jisseh had in fact 
been made. Colonel Meade was therefore instructed to 

87 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

insist upon its revocation, and Admiral Douglas was asked 
by Lord Curzon to proceed to Muscat in H.M.S. Eclipse^ 
the flagship of the East Indies Squadron, to support the 
demand. Even after the flagship had been two days in 
Muscat Harbour the Sultan was still partially recalcitrant, 
and Colonel Meade was compelled to ask Admiral Douglas 
to take charge of the negotiations. On February 16th 
Admiral Douglas notified the Sultan that if he did not come 
off to the flagship at a given time and accede in full to the 
British demands, he would bombard his palace, which stands 
at the water's edge. The Sultan came off*. That was the 
end of the French coaling station at Bunder Jisseh. 

It will be readily imagined that these peremptory pro- 
ceedings were not undertaken without strong justification. 
The justification was furnished, as was at once explained to 
the French Government, by a secret agreement concluded 
between Great Britain and the Sultan in 1891, by which he 
promised never to alienate, or to permit a foreign Power to 
occupy, any part of the State of Oman. The lease or cession 
of Bunder Jisseh — the exact nature of the grant has not been 
made public — was a gross violation of this engagement. 
That it was so swiftly annulled was due solely to the 
vigilance and energy of Lord Curzon. The Home Govern- 
ment had apparently only sanctioned the other demands 
which were being pressed upon the Sultan, though it must 
have concurred in the despatch of the flagsliip. The insist- 
ence upon the annulment of the Bunder Jisseh grant was 
included upon Lord Curzon's own initiative. This is proved 
by the fact that on the very day that the guns of the Eclipse 
were being trained on the Sultan's palace, Mr. Brodrick, then 
Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, stated that so far as his 
information went the Sultan of Oman had not ceded a 
coaling station. The Home Government afterwards amply 
endorsed the Viceroy's action, and the Times comphmented 
him upon his "promptitude and decision." M. Delcasse 
made a singular speech in the French Chamber in which he 

88 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

said that France had never sought to obtain possession of a 
harbour, and that the threat to bombard Muscat was due to 
the " incorrect and spontaneous intervention of local agents." 
The denial need not be too closely scrutinised at this time of 
day. As for the British representatives, Mr. Brodrick 
promptly repudiated the allegation that their action had 
received the disapproval of the British Government. Some- 
thing was done to soothe the sensibilities of France. She 
was given a corner of the British coal store at the entrance 
to Muscat Harbour, but nothing more was heard of French 
aspirations in Oman. 

Relations with the Sultan immediately improved, and 
there has since been no serious cause of difference. Lord 
Curzon sent to Muscat Colonel Cox, an officer of exceptional 
capacity and tact, who soon established a better understand- 
ing with the ruler of Oman. Colonel Cox is one of several 
examples of men selected by Lord Curzon from comparatively 
minor positions, trusted implicitly, and given large responsi- 
biUties. In due course he was promoted to be Resident and 
Consul-General in the Persian Gulf. The post is perhaps as 
difficult to fill as any in the British Empire. It brings the 
holder into constant contact with many nationalities, and with 
wild and semi-barbarous chieftains between whom he has to 
hold the balance. He has to satisfy not only the Govern- 
ment of India, but also the British Foreign Office, for he is 
the joint servant of both. The peace of the Gulf is in his 
hands. He requires to exercise both firmness and restraint. 
Premature or indiscreet action on his part may at any time 
precipitate an " international incident " of the gravest kind. 
During the seven years that he has had control of the Gulf 
Colonel Cox has shown a strength and caution, and a careful 
adherence to pacific and unaggressive methods, which have 
amply justified Lord Curzon's discernment. 

Another cause of dispute at Muscat between Great 
Britain and France was happily settled by The Hague 
Tribunal in 1905. The French authorities at Jibutil had 

89 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

granted the right to fly the French flag to a considerable 
number of dhows haiUng from the lawless port of Sur, in 
Oman. The dhows frequently carried cargoes of arms and 
slaves, and when British warships sought to search them, 
they hoisted the tricolor and claimed its protection. The 
owners of the dhows, although they were subjects of the 
Sultan of Oman, alleged that he could exercise no jurisdic- 
tion over them when they landed in his territory. A couple 
of awkward incidents, in which the Sultan endeavoured to 
exercise his authority, brought the whole question into the 
sphere of high politics. Great Britain championed the 
Sultan's cause, and arbitration was agreed upon. The 
Hague Tribunal found that all grants of the flag made after 
1892, when the Brussels Act was ratified, were invalid, and 
that those owners to whom the grants continued were 
subject ashore to the jurisdiction of the Sultan. The award 
deprived all but a dozen or so men of their French flags, and 
those who still possess them will automatically lose the 
privilege in course of time. The warm friendship now 
existing between the British and French nations is fortunately 
reflected to-day in their relations in Oman and the Gulf, 
but it is deplorable that France still protects the arms traffic 
at Muscat under the provisions of the Treaty of 1862. 

Oman is a barren land, with very little cultivation in the 
interior, and small prospect of development. The date 
trade is its mainstay. The very great strategic importance 
of its harbours make it an object of constant solicitude to 
the Government of India. I can see little prospect of 
continuity in its present condition. The Sultanate has lost 
through weakness and internal strife most of its former 
possessions. Zanzibar has been cut adrift, and Bunder 
Abbas has reverted to Persia. The sole remaining appanage 
of Oman on the opposite coast is the port of Gwadur, in 
Mekran. Even within the state of Oman the authority 
of the Sultan can rarely be safely exercised outside the 
two contiguous towns of Muscat and • Matra. The day 

90 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

before I visited Matra the town had been held up to 
blackmail by a band of freebooters from the mountains. 
The Sultan is a kindly, dignified man with a taste for 
photography and a keen interest in warships, but his rule 
extends as far as his eye can see, and no farther. There can 
be no permanence in such a situation. 

Though Lord Curzon disposed of the Muscat difficulty 
very quickly, the designs of Russia were less easy to 
confront, because more elusive. The presence of numerous 
Russian emissaries in the regions of the Gulf has been 
already noted, but the first hint of definite action was again 
derived from a newspaper. Following upon rumours that 
Russia had obtained an interest in a Gulf port, the St. 
Petersburg Viedoviosti published in 1899 an article urging 
that Bunder Abbas should be acquired, together with the 
islands in the Straits of Hormuz, and that Bunder Abbas 
should be made the terminus of the railway Russia hoped to 
build across Persia. In those days Russia appeared to 
regard Persian territory very much as she regarded the 
lands of Northern China before her rude awakening. The 
outbreak of the South African War seemed a propitious 
moment for an advance, and a beginning was made 
in characteristic fashion. On February 14, 1900, when 
Eady smith was still unrelieved, and Paardeberg had not 
been fought, and the fate of Great Britain in South Africa 
was trembling in the balance, the Giljak, a small Russian 
gunboat, stole innocently into the Bunder Abbas roadstead 
from now^here in particular, and quietly anchored. 

Had a great cruiser arrived at Bunder Abbas at this 
juncture, Persia and India would soon have been agog ; 
but the G-iljak was such an unobtrusive little vessel that 
no one thought her of any account. The commander pro- 
fessed himself in need of coal and the Russian authorities 
communicated with a Bombay firm and ordered 300 tons. 
Every step was taken in the most open and ostensibly 
artless way. The Bombay firm had a steamer, the 

91 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

s.s. Waddon, at Port Said laden with coal, and diverted 
it to Bunder Abbas to execute the order. Then the com- 
mander of the Giljak discovered, to his own apparent 
dismay, that he could not take 300 tons into his bunkers. 
He asked the Persian officials to grant him permission to 
land a portion of the consignment. The local governor had 
meanwhile developed healthy suspicions. Russian coal, he 
argued, might involve Russian guards ; and Russian guards 
had an awkward habit of wearing out their welcome by 
staying an unconscionable time. Another circumstance 
served to stiffen him. H.M.S. Pomone had suddenly 
appeared out of the unknown, and was taking an ab- 
sorbing interest in the proceedings. The upshot was that 
the request was flatly refused. The commander of the 
Giljak filled his bunkers, stacked his decks with coal from 
stem to stern, and, as a matter of courtesy, the balance was 
placed in native boats and afterwards deposited in a building 
belonging to the Persian authorities, where it was soon 
forgotten. The arrangement to coal at Bunder Abbas, 
of all unlikely places in the world, and the order for a 
quantity very far in excess of the Giljak's capacity, tell 
their own story. It has never been seriously denied that 
the scheme was meant to create a nucleus store out of 
which a full-blown coaling station would in time have been 
evolved. 

The Giljak continued her voyage round the Gulf, laden 
with superfluous coal. She was followed next year by the 
cruiser Faryag, later by the Askold, and in 1903 by the 
Boyarin, all of which made impressive tours of the Gulf 
ports, but there was no further attempt to secure^ a coaling 
station. Meanwhile, in 1900, a Russian mission had carried 
out railway surveys in Southern Persia, and one party had 
emerged at Bunder Abbas, while another party actually 
surveyed a route as far as Chahbar, on the Indian Ocean, 
only about 100 miles from the Baluchistan frontier. At 
that time Russia was taking considerable interest in 

92 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

Chahbar, which is the safest and most convenient port 
on that part of the coast. Another evidence of Russian 
enterprise was the estabhshment of consulates at Basra, 
Bushire, and Bunder Abbas, which were conspicuously 
unnecessary because Russia had no nationals to protect, 
and no trade to foster, in the Persian Gulf. An effort was 
commenced in 1901 to rectify the absence of Russian trade. 
A company was formed at Odessa, called the Russian 
Steam Navigation and Trading Company. It runs excel- 
lent vessels four times a year to the Gulf ports, but though 
heavily subsidised they carry little cargo. The latest 
returns show that Russian trade with the Gulf is not only 
very small, but is diminishing. Since the period of the 
Russo-Japanese War Russian activity in the Gulf has 
practically ceased. 

The Power which has been most continuously and 
persistently busy in the Gulf for the last ten years is 
Germany. The aims of Germany have been ostentatiously 
commercial, but they have been marked by more than one 
effort to obtain a definite territorial footing. Germany first 
established a Vice-Consulate at Bushire in 1897, when there 
were exactly six German subjects in the whole of the Gulf. 
In 1899 the German cruiser Arcona paid one of those visits 
to Gulf ports which, in the case of foreign warships, have 
generally been the prelude of some scheme of aggrandise- 
ment. So it proved upon this occasion. Early in 1900 
a German mission arrived overland at Koweit. It was 
headed by Herr Stemrich, afterwards Minister at Teheran, 
who now occupies a prominent position in the German 
Foreign Office. Herr Stemrich had been stationed at 
Constantinople, where he was largely associated with the 
Baghdad Railway scheme, and the object of his visit to 
Koweit was to obtain from Sheikh Mubarak a concession 
for a terminus upon the shores of Koweit Harbour. He 
asked for a site at Ras Kathama, at the head of the bay, 
and for a lease of twenty square miles of territory around it. 

93 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

It is not surprising that the request was flatly refused. 
Mubarak would probably have rejected the German over- 
tures in any case, because he knew the character of German 
relations with the Turks, with whom he was on bad terms. 
But there was another circumstance which made refusal 
imperative. Almost the first administrative act performed 
by Lord Curzon in January 1899 had been to instruct 
Colonel Meade to conclude an agreement with Mubarak, 
the nature of which certainly precluded the cession of any 
portion of his territory to any foreign Power. The precise 
terms of the agreement have never been made public, 
though its existence is now generally known. They are, 
however, sufficiently indicated by Mr. Balfour's reference in 
the House of Commons on April 8, 1903, to " the 
territories of a Sheikh whom we have under our special 
protection, and with whom w^e have special treaties " ; and 
by the statement of the Times on January 11, 1904, that 
Mubarak has contracted " special treaty relations which 
placed his rights and interests under the segis of Great 
Britain." Germany has been, in effect, warned off, and 
there has been no further attempt to obtain preferential 
advantages at Koweit. I believe I am neverthless justified 
in saying that Mubarak would like to see the terminus 
at Koweit, if he could be assured of his own independence 
and of the continuance of British protection. 

Other enterprises with which Germany has been 
associated are more obscure, and with one exception have 
been mooted since Lord Curzon's departure. While he was 
still Viceroy, a German syndicate tried to get a concession 
from the Sultan Abdul Hamid for working the pearl banks 
by *' scientific methods," though the Sultan had not the 
slightest power to grant concessions for pearling in the Gulf 
to anybody. It is said that more recently Germany sought 
to obtain from the Sultan a lease of the island of Halul, sixty 
miles east of Bida. Halul is a barren island with a good and 
sheltered anchorage on the south-east side, and quite suitable 

94 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

for the " coaling station " which is so much in request. By 
custom it is the joint property of the Arab sheikhs, and is 
used as a rendezvous for the pearhng fleet ; and Turkey has 
no more right to give a lease of it than it has to dispose of 
the Isle of Wight. A more definite attempt was made in 
1906 to create rights upon the island of Abu Musa, fifty 
miles north-west of the town of Shargah, on the Pirate Coast. 
There is ample evidence that Abu Musa has been con- 
tinuously in the possession of the Sheikh of Shargah, and 
when Palgrave landed upon it in 1863 he found horses and 
camels grazing there in charge of the then Sheikh's retainers. 
A concession for working the red oxide deposits upon Abu 
Musa was granted by the Sheikh to three men, who formed 
a partnership. Two of the partners transferred the con- 
cession to a German firm, Messrs. Wonckhaus and Co., 
without reference to the Sheikh or to the third partner, who 
resided at Shargah. Messrs. Wonckhaus and Co. are the 
agents for the Hamburg- Amerika Company, and that great 
organisation is believed to have been the real possessor of the 
transferred concession. The Sheikh is one of the Trucial 
Chiefs, and by a treaty concluded in 1892 all the Chiefs had 
bound themselves "not to enter into any agreement or 
correspondence with any other Power, nor admit the agent 
of any other Government, nor to part with any portion 
of their territories save to Great Britain." The Sheikh 
protested against the transfer, and requested the British 
Government, as his protector, to intervene. In October 
1907, H.M.S. Lapwing towed to the island a number of 
sailing boats containing 300 armed followers of the Sheikh 
of Shargah, and the men working the oxide deposits were 
removed and conveyed to Lingah. The matter was made 
the subject of an official German protest, but the concession 
was cancelled. 

The recital of occurrences of this kind may seem trivial. 
It has more than once fallen to my lot, in remote parts of 
the world, to contemplate International Incidents upon the 

95 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

spot, and it has always struck me at the time that people 
would be less disposed to spell them in capital letters if they 
saw how petty and ludicrous their actual characteristics 
generally are. Yet they are not petty in their possibilities. 
The smart French Consul with the lease of a deserted harbour 
in his pocket, Herr Stemrich, in the bare audience chamber 
of Mubarak, persuasively discussing a strip of sandy fore- 
shore, the Russian naval officer asking leave to dump down 
coal on Bunder Abbas beach, the raddle-streaked half-clad 
men toiling on a rocky islet in the midst of the seas, were all 
instruments of the subtle policy of great nations. If we 
remember the Morocco affair of 1905, and the disastrous 
war it nearly brought about, we shall not deem these things 
trivial so long as governments fish in troubled waters. 

It remains to be noted that for the last five years a 
vessel of the Hamburg- Amerika line has visited the Gulf 
every month, but Germany has acquired very little trade 
except at Basra, where the imports of German goods are 
steadily increasing. 

Turkey was another Power which gave a great deal of 
very definite trouble in the Gulf during Lord Curzon's 
Viceroyalty. She repeatedly endeavoured to obtain posses- 
sion of Koweit, over which she claimed a vague sort of 
suzerainty. The Turks have long sought to make fresh 
conquests in the Gulf, and so far back as the forties tried to 
secure the allegiance of Bahrein. There is reason to sup- 
pose, however, that their eagerness to seize Koweit during 
the early years of Lord Curzon's rule in India was due to 
the belief that the harbour was the only possible terminus 
for the Baghdad Railway. 

Reams have been written about the basis of the Turkish 
claims to Koweit. The very origin of the Arabs of Koweit 
is disputed. Colonel Felly, a former resident in the Persian 
Gulf, declared that they came from Um Kasr, at the head 
of the Khor Abdullah, 250 years ago ; but the Bombay 
Government Records, and the memoirs of Midhat Pasha, 

96 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

alike state that they came from Nejd, and 1 beUeve the 
latter theory is correct. The statements in the Bombay 
records about their relations with the Turks are rather con- 
tradictory. It is fairly clear that throughout the eighteenth 
century the Sheikhs of Koweit were entirely independent. 
Sir Harford Brydges, afterwards British Minister to Persia, 
relates that in 1792 the British factory at Basra was removed 
to Koweit in consequence of the ill-behaviour of the Turkish 
officials. He also says that the Sheikh of Koweit sheltered 
the rebel chief of the Montefik Arabs, and flatly refused to give 
him up, whereupon the Vali of Baghdad remarked : " After 
all, I regard it as a great happiness to have, in case of a rainy 
day, a person of the temper of the Sheikh of Grain (Koweit) so 
near me." Brydges lived at Koweit, and his testimony is 
indisputable. In 1829 Captain Brucks of the Indian Navy 
wrote that the Sheikh " acknowledged the authority of the 
Porte," and paid a tribute of forty bags of rice and 4>00 frazils 
of dates annually. In 1845 Lieutenant Kemball reported that 
for twenty years Koweit had been " considered " as " closely 
connected" with the Pashalik of Baghdad. The Koweit 
vessels flew the Turkish flag, and the Sheikh received 
annually 200 karahs of dates (equivalent to 4000 crowns), 
in return for which he was bound to protect Basra from 
foreign aggression. There is not much suggestion of 
suzerainty or tribute in this statement. About the same 
time Lieutenant Kemball made another report in which he 
said that the inhabitants of Koweit " acknowledge a nominal 
dependence to the Turkish Government." In 1853 Lieu- 
tenant Disbrowe stated that the Sheikh had " placed him- 
self under the guardianship of the Porte." Colonel Pelly, 
who visited Koweit in 1863 and 1865, states that the Sheikh 
received annually " a complimentary present of dates from 
Basra, in token of suzerainty and for the supposed protec- 
tion of the mouths of the Basra river." There is again very 
little implication of tribute in this assertion. Palgrave, not 
a very trustworthy witness, as he never went to Koweit, 

97 G 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

wrote in 1868 that the Sheikh had " refused the demands 
of tribute and submission " made by the VaH of Baghdad. 
Midhat Pasha, who was VaH of Baghdad in 1869-70, states 
in the memoirs edited by his son that the people of Koweit 
had successfully resisted all attempts to bring them within 
Turkish jurisdiction, and that they had maintained their 
"practical independence." He claims to have added their 
territory to the vilayet of Baghdad with their consent, but 
as he makes a similar but quite illusory statement about 
Bahrein, the allegation that he included Koweit within the 
dominions of the Sultan hardly commands acceptance. 

My own view, after examining much more evidence 
than is here recorded, is that the suzerainty of the Sultan 
over Koweit was never more than a " polite fiction." Midhat 
Pasha's admission probably describes the situation that 
existed all last century. Rulers who were able to protect 
a Turkish city in return for payment were not likely to 
brook any serious exercise of authority by the distant poten- 
tate of Constantinople ; but they doubtless tendered the 
Sultan that ill-defined though tangible respect which most 
Mussulman magnates proffer to one who, whether he be 
Khalifa or not, is still the greatest monarch in Islam. 
Mubarak's own attitude is not difficult to understand. He 
wishes to preserve his own independence, and to enjoy the 
protection of British warships in case of need ; but he knows 
the mutability of human things, and prefers to keep on good 
terms with his Turkish neighbours so far as is possible. He 
is well aware that differences with the Sultan do him harm 
in the eyes of Mussulmans, and when he came into posses- 
sion of Koweit in 1896 he even tried, by distributing bribes 
at Constantinople, to buy the recognition of Abdul Hamid. 
He has the best of reasons for wishing to preserve Turkish 
friendship, because he owns date groves near Fao, in Turkish 
territory, which bring him in £4000 a year. He therefore 
thinks it good policy to have a foot in each camp. He 
gladly seeks the aid of British bluejackets when his capital 

98 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

is menaced, but he flies the Turkish flag as a cheap and 
meaningless comphment. Tliere is no doubt about the flag, 
for when he received me a huge Crescent and Star was 
floating over his house. His own explanation, though not 
made to me, was that he flew it because it was the emblem 
of the Mussulman faith ; and further, that when his ships 
visited foreign harbours, it was a convenience for them to 
carry a flag which was known and recognised. It is 
probable that the custom is really a survival of the 
days when the vessels of Koweit sailed forth to protect 
Basra from the attacks of the predatory tribes of the 
Euphrates delta. 

I have gone somewhat closely into the question of the 
Turkish claims of suzerainty over Koweit, because we have 
by no means heard the last of them. It is more than 
doubtful now w^hether Koweit will ever become the com- 
mercial terminus of the Baghdad Railway. That destiny 
is clearly reserved for Basra, and the bar at the mouth of 
the Shatt-al-Arab can be easily dredged. But even under 
the new dispensation Turkey has not ceased to make 
advances, sometimes cordial, sometimes menacing, to Koweit. 
In 1909 pressure was placed upon Mubarak by the cancella- 
tion, on the pretext that he was not a Turkish subject, of 
large purchases of land which he had made in Mesopotamia. 
Considering how much the Young Turks owe to the un- 
swerving friendship of Great Britain during the revolution, 
the manner in which they have permitted their repre- 
sentatives in the vilayets of Baghdad and Basra to intrigue 
against Koweit savours of rank ingratitude. 

While Lord Curzon was Viceroy these intrigues, by 
direction of Abdul Hamid and, as is believed, at the instiga- 
tion of Germany, took a far more definite shape. In 1900 
Mubarak, who has great influence with the rulers of Central 
Arabia, plunged boldly into the rivalries between the great 
families of Ibn Rashid and Ibn Saud, and led an army into 
the interior. He was marching to the support of Ibn Saud, 

99 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

and after more than one victory was ambushed in a ravine, 
and so badly defeated that when the remnants of his force 
returned to Koweit some of his men were riding three 
on a horse. Abdul Hamid immediately took advantage of 
Mubarak's plight. In 1901 a decrepit Turkish corvette, 
packed with troops, steamed into Koweit Harbour, and its 
commander blandly prepared to take possession of the town. 
Lord Curzon was fully acquainted with the projected plot, 
and with the sanction of the Home Government had issued 
explicit directions to the British naval authorities to prevent 
the seizure of Koweit. The corvette found the inevitable 
British cruiser awaiting her, and a British naval officer. 
Captain Pears, said a few plain words which induced the 
Turks to withdraw in considerable haste. The Turkish 
Government afterwards had the effrontery to inform the 
Foreign Office that the vessel carried no troops at all. 
Towards the end of the year the corvette reappeared, bearing 
a high Turkish official, who carried an extremely threatening 
message from the Sultan to Mubarak. On that occasion 
another British naval officer. Captain Simons, whose ship 
was at Koweit, intervened upon his own responsibility — for 
instructions had not reached him — and at his bidding 
Mubarak ordered the Sultan's envoy to depart. Those who 
only see the Royal Navy at Spithead or Portland hardly 
realise the difficult duties and serious responsibilities which 
naval officers sometimes have to undertake at a moment's 
notice in distant waters ; yet I can only recall one naval 
officer who has been decorated for services in the Gulf. 
The Turks were not deterred from making mischief, 
although twice driven back by the sight of British guns. 
They incited Ibn Rashid to move on Koweit, which he did 
with great alacrity. The close of the year found three 
British warships in the harbour, a British force with light 
guns in the fort of Jehara, eighteen miles inland, and British 
bluejackets manning hastily prepared entrenchments outside 
the town. Clouds of Ibn Rashid's horsemen hovered near 

100 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

for some time, but the task was too formidable for them, 
and eventually they marched back to Central Arabia. The 
last definite attempt to seize Koweit was made some months 
later by Mubarak's nephews, assuredly with Turkish cog- 
nisance. They left the Shatt-al-Arab, where they were in 
exile, with a fleet of boats, which was promptly chased and 
dispersed by H.M.S. Lapwing. 

The next Turkish move was more insidious. Almost 
before the menace of Ibn Rashid had disappeared, small 
forces of Turkish troops began to occupy posts in territory 
claimed by Mubarak. The Sheikh alleges that his jurisdic- 
tion extends northward as far as Safwan, twenty miles 
north-west of the Khor Abdullah. Early in 1902 the Turks 
occupied Safwan, and also Um Kasr, where there is a fort 
built by Mubarak's grandfather ; a month later they estab- 
lished a post on Bubiyan Island, which indisputably belongs 
to IMubarak ; and two months afterwards they were found 
to have seized an island in Musalamiya Bay, about 180 miles 
south of Koweit, at the southern extremity of the territories 
claimed by the Sheikh. The reason of this renewed activity 
probably was that it had been discovered that the deep 
narrow inlets of Khor Abdullah and Khor Zobeir, at the 
back of Bubiyan Island, might form alternative termini for 
the Baghdad Railway. It is known that Lord Curzon, who 
exercised the utmost vigilance regarding affairs at the head 
of the Gulf, protested very strongly against these acts of 
unprovoked aggression. But the Turkish outposts remained 
long after his departure, and, I understand, are still there, 
so it can only be assumed that the Home Government did 
not support the Viceroy's representations. INIubarak made 
an ineffectual response by sending a small force to occupy 
Hagaija, at the northern extremity of the bay of Koweit, 
close by the entrance to the Khor Sabiya. Great Britain is 
said to have informed the Porte that INIubarak's rights are 
not regarded as prejudiced by the Turkish occupation ; but 
the reluctance of the Foreign Office to interfere is not in 

101 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

accord with the definite though general promises which we 
made to Mubarak in 1899. 

Nevertheless, Mubarak is far stronger now than he has 
ever been. Koweit is growing rapidly, and has spread far 
outside its old walls. Its trade is steadily increasing, and the 
Sheikh is waxing rich. He is reputed to be able to put 
between ten and fifteen thousand fighting men in the field. 
He has bought a yacht, and often goes to stay with Sheikh 
Khazaal, the powerful Arab ruler of Mohammerah, in 
Persia, with whom he is on excellent terms. When Lord 
Curzon visited him and gave him a sword of honour, he 
described himself as having become " a military officer of 
the British Empire." It may have been a phrase more 
suitable for " the languorous Orient's jewelled ear," but it was 
probably sincerely meant. Yet the future of Koweit is by 
no means free from uncertainty, and we cannot afford to relax 
the watch we maintain over it. 

The territory of Mubarak was not the only scene of 
Turkish aggrandisement. Within the last thirty or forty 
years the Turks have encroached along the shores of 
El Hasa, and in the promontory of El Katar, on the Arabian 
coast of the Gulf. Great Britain has never recognised the 
Turkish seizure of El Katar, and the Turks are so weak 
there that they do not interfere with the civil administration. 
The solitary battalion at Bida hardly dares to venture outside 
the gates of the town. Yet throughout Lord Curzon's stay 
in India the attitude of the Turkish officials in these 
regions, their efforts to intrude along the Pirate Coast, 
and the acts of piracy committed under the shelter of their 
nominal rule, caused constant trouble and anxiety to the 
British authorities. The best thing that could happen to 
Eastern Arabia is for the Turks to withdraw from it 
altogether. They do no good, they oppress the people in 
the oases, there is more than a suspicion that their sub- 
ordinate officials encourage piracy, and their laxity constantly 
permits the Bedouins of the desert to attack the subjects of 

102 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

the Sheikh of Bahrein. Into the compHcated poHtics of 
Central Arabia, which also received close attention during 
Lord Curzon's administration, I do not propose to enter. 
They constitute a long and romantic story, and their con- 
sequences affect very considerably the situation on the 
Arabian side of the Gulf; but it is a long time since Great 
Britain intervened in them. 

The islands of Bahrein, which lie near El Katar in a deep 
bight of the Gulf, were the scene of continual unrest during 
Lord Curzon's time. British interests in Bahrein are not 
only based upon the early treaty of maritime peace between 
the Trucial Chiefs, among whom the then ruler of Bahrein 
was included. They are greatly strengthened by an agree- 
ment of 1880, in which the Sheikh undertook to abstain 
from entering into negotiations with any foreign Powers or 
from receiving their agents without British consent ; and by 
a further undertaking concluded in 1892, in which he 
pledged himself not to cede, lease, or mortgage any part of 
his territories to any other Government than the British. 
Turkey has now abandoned her indefensible pretensions to 
suzerainty over Bahrein ; but Persia, on the strength of her 
ancient capture of the islands from the Portuguese, still 
affects to regard the people of Bahrein as her subjects when 
they cross to Bushire. Sheikh Isa, the present ruler of 
Bahrein, was placed in control by the British in 1869, when 
he was a young lad of 20. He has not been successful in his 
rule. He muddles his finances, oppresses his people, fails to 
suppress the traffic in slaves, quarrels with his relatives (who 
are certainly truculent persons), and handles his customs 
with conspicuous inefficiency. The troubles of Bahrein have 
at present small international importance ; but owing to 
riots in 1904 which Sheikh Isa failed to punish. Lord 
Curzon was compelled to order the presentation of an 
ultimatum. Foreigners had been assaulted, and other 
Governments were pressing for redress. Colonel Cox arrived 
off Manamah with three warships in February 1905, and 

103 



♦ • 

INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the British demands were duly conceded within the 
prescribed twenty-four hours. Since that time Slieikh Isa, 
who seemed to me a mild and grave and rather careworn old 
man, has been more mindful of his obligations. Great Britain 
usually confines its intervention at Bahrein to questions of 
external relations, but constantly presses upon the Sheikh the 
urgent need for internal reforms. The exercise of British 
authority ought to be placed on a more definite footing. 

Bahrein has a world-wide interest as the centre of the 
Gulf pearl trade. In good years it sends to Paris and New 
York and London, by way of Bombay and Surat, a million 
pounds worth of pearls. The pearl bank practically extends 
for more than half the length of the western side of the 
Gulf, commencing near Abu Musa, opposite Shargah, 
curving round to the island of Halul, then passing near 
El Katar, and finally terminating at a point near INIusalamiya, 
where the territories of the Sheikh of Koweit begin. Very 
little of the bank lies in territorial waters, and therefore the 
right to fish upon it raises a rather nice question in inter- 
national law. The pearl fisheries have been worked for 
centuries by the various Arab communities on the western 
shores of the Gulf, who may be said to have acquired a 
prescriptive right in them. A British gunboat polices the 
bank during the fishery season, and preserves order among 
the pearling dhows. Various enterprising persons of British, 
Indian, and other nationalities, who have sought to partici- 
pate, have all been warned off by the British Government. 
Yet attempts are still projected from time to time, and only 
last year there was a lawsuit at INIarseilles between two 
persons who had quarrelled about the financing of an 
expedition to the Gulf in search of pearls. The question, 
however, really settles itself. I should be sorry to go 
pearling amid a horde of retired pirates unless I had an 
escort of a squadron of cruisers. 

The Persian coast of the Gulf, other than Bunder Abbas, 
presents fewer questions of stirring interest, though the 

104 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

issues involved, connected as they are with the whole 
problem of the future of Persia, are of deep significance. Chief 
among these is the situation created by the peculiar position 
of Sheikh Khazaal, who resides at Mohammerah, at the 
junction of the Karun and the Shatt-al-Arab, and who controls 
a good deal of the Karun Valley and the adjacent regions. 
Sheikh Khazaal is an exceedingly able Arab and the head of a 
tribe which has long been resident in Persian Arabistan. A 
large proportion of his people are Arabs, though some are 
Persians. He is wealthy, and has already shown himself 
able to mobilise 25,000 cavalry and infantry in some 
operations against turbulent tribes. He renders nominal 
fealty to the Shah, possesses a Persian title, married a 
Persian princess, flies the Persian flag, and tries to keep on 
good terms ^\'ith Teheran ; but he levies his own taxes, 
maintains his own troops, and in practice is more than semi- 
independent. Since the weakening of the Persian central 
authority he stands more than ever alone, and he is in 
constant fear of Turkish aggression. That is probably the 
reason of his intimate relations with Mubarak. He is a 
warm friend of the British, and often looks to them for 
advice and support ; and it fell to Lord Curzon's lot not 
only to adjust his serious quarrel with the Persian Govern- 
ment about customs administration, but also to initiate and 
develop an excellent understanding between him and Great 
Britain. One result of this friendship was that the Govern- 
ment of India, with the approval of Persia, deputed a 
capable Punjab officer to assist Sheikh Khazaal in a scheme 
of irrigation which he proposes to undertake on the Karun 
River. The efforts of Germany to induce the Teheran 
authorities to gi*ant an irrigation concession within the 
Sheikh's territories were thereby frustrated. Had the 
Persian Government been foolish enough to give a conces- 
sion, which it had probably no right to grant, and certainly 
no power to enforce, an armed revolt at Mohammerah 
would have inevitably followed. The poUcy of Great 

105 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Britain, however, at any rate during Lord Curzon's Vice- 
royalty, was always directed towards encouraging Sheikh 
Khazaal to show due respect to the Shah and his advisers. 

The town of Bushire, the principal port of Persia, and 
the headquarters of the British Resident in the Gulf, was 
fairly quiet throughout Lord Curzon's period of office, 
except for a little playful shooting at the Residency by the 
Tangistanis, a disorderly tribe which has frequently given 
trouble. More recently the trade of Bushire has been almost 
ruined by the chaotic condition of Southern Persia, the 
insecurity of the trade-routes, and the failure of numbers of 
Persian merchants. Bushire is in any case one of the worst 
ports in the world. Even under the most favourable 
conditions ships still have to lie at least three miles from the 
shore. It has no wharves or piers, and very little semblance 
of a natural harbour. The mule track to Shiraz, by which 
all merchandise is carried inland, winds amid precipitous 
heights. Bushire is not, and never can be, a satisfactory 
outlet for the trade of Southern Persia. If the country had 
proper communications, trade would probably centre at 
Bunder Abbas, in spite of its terrific heat. 

Lingah, the next port along the coast, was seized in 1898 
by an Arab sheikh who had hereditary claims to its control. 
The Persians ejected the Arab in 1899 by a treacherous 
expedient ; but though Lord Curzon sent a gunboat to 
protect British subjects, no attempt was made to intervene 
in the quarrel. In the confusion which followed, much of 
the trade of Lingah went to Debai, on the Pirate Coast, but 
it i|S now drifting back. 

The customs administration, which has been principally 
in the hands of Belgians since 1898, caused endless difficulties 
throughout the Persian coast in the earUer years of Lord 
Curzon's control. The Belgian officials were honest, but 
wont to enmesh themselves and the unhappy traders in inter- 
minable folds of red tape. They owed the creation of their 
service to Russia, and did not forget it, while they disliked 

106 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

the paramountcy of Great Britain in the Gulf. It would be 
unfair to say that they became Russian agents, but they 
dabbled a good deal in politics. They tried quite unwarrant- 
ably to seize certain islands in the middle of the Gulf, all of 
which belong to the Sheikh of Shargah. They hoisted the 
Persian flag upon the Two Tambs and on Abu Musa. On 
the island of Sirri the Persian flag was first raised in 1887. 
The Sheikh of Shargah protested, but nothing was done to 
recover possession for him, although 100 of his people were 
living there. That was during an interlude when the 
Government of India was inclined to forget its responsibili- 
ties in the Gulf In 1904 a Belgian customs officer 
emphasised the Persian possession of Sirri by hoisting more 
flags, until the island was radiant with bunting. Lord 
Curzon insisted on the Persian flags being hauled down on 
the Two Tambs and on Abu Musa, which was done ; but the 
Persian claim to Sirri is still in dispute. Of late the Belgian 
officials have confined themselves to their normal duties, and 
are on much better terms both with the British representa- 
tives and with the commercial communities. 

So far little has been said of the active steps taken by 
Lord Curzon to strengthen and develop the British position 
in the Gulf. He had not only to resist and overcome the 
attacks made upon it from all quarters, but he had also to 
devise measures to ensure that in future it could not be 
assailed with any prospect of success. The expedients he 
adopted were numerous and effective. The naval importance 
of Elphinstone Inlet was recognised. Great Britain had 
received a grant of a tiny islet in the fiord, known as 
Telegraph Island, and had occupied it from 1864 to 1868, 
durinsf which time the Gulf cable was carried across the 
Musendam Peninsula. Possession of this island was resumed 
in 1904, and a flagstaff" was erected to denote British rights. 
When the cable was diverted from Musendam in 1868, it 
was taken to the island of Henjam, where a telegraph 
station was erected with the consent of the Persian Govern- 

107 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

merit. The station remained there until 1882, when im- 
provements in ocean telegraphy rendered the reinforcing 
current from Henjam unnecessary. A direct cable was laid 
from Jask to Bushire, and Henjam was abandoned. The 
concession still existed, however, and Lord Curzon utilised 
it to rebuild the telegraph station on Henjam. A cable was 
landed there, and was afterwards linked up with Bunder 
Abbas, though the Bunder Abbas line may become the 
property of the Persian Government if it pays the cost of 
construction. The Henjam station carried with it an enclave 
ot two square miles of land, and considering the strategical 
importance of the islands in the Straits of Hormuz, its 
resumption is of considerable value. The station serves a 
useful telegraphic purpose, but it is also a little watch-tower 
against aggression, and it overlooks an excellent anchorage 
between Henjam and Deristan Bay, in Kishm. Henjam is 
a lonely spot. When I visited it the two telegraph operators 
had not seen a white man for five months, and were so 
unused to visitors that they found conversation difficult. 
Muscat, which had hitherto been quite isolated, was also 
linked up by cable with Jask in 1901. 

Great Britain had long possessed, on the island of Kishm, 
an enclave at Basidu, several square miles in extent, which 
was granted in 1798 by the Sultan of Oman, who then 
owned Kishm. Basidu was for many years the Gulf head- 
quarters of the old Indian Navy, and has never been entirely 
abandoned. I have seldom seen a more pathetic sight than 
the ruined barracks and hospital and dwelling-houses at 
Basidu. In the deserted graveyard at the edge of the sea 
many brave sailors, and even English ladies, lie buried. 
Steps were taken by Lord Curzon to make the British 
ownership of Basidu more definite, though the influx of 
settlers was strictly discouraged. 

The surveys of the Persian Gulf were originally made by 
officers of the Indian Navy early last century, and were 
remarkably good and accurate, though incomplete. At 

108 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

Lord Curzon's instance they were revised and checked at 
many points, and new surveys were also carried out. 
Special officers were detailed by the Admiralty to superintend 
the work. Three gunboats were designated for regular 
service in the Gulf, instead of the rather makeshift arrange- 
ment which had previously existed. Large cruisers were 
repeatedly sent to "show the flag" in Gulf waters, as a 
reply to the frequent naval demonstrations of foreign Powers. 
By contract with the British India Steam Navigation 
Company, a fast mail service was established to Gulf ports, 
and Koweit was for the first time made a regular port of 
call. A good deal of scientific exploration was undertaken 
on both sides of the Gulf. 

The consular establishments, which were extremely 
inadequate, were also enlarged and extended. A consul 
was placed at Bunder Abbas, and political agents at Bahrein 
and Koweit, and vice-consuls were stationed at Kerbela 
and Ahwaz. Nearly all the consulates and residencies were 
either rebuilt during Lord Curzon's term of office, or new 
buildings were planned and afterwards constructed. The com- 
mercial missions which were despatched, one by Lord Curzon 
and the other by the British Board of Trade, accumulated a 
mass of information which was subsequently of great service. 

The period of pronounced international endeavour to 
undermine the supremacy of Great Britain in the Persian 
Gulf ended, for the time being, in 1903, having lasted over 
five years. Lord Curzon had successfully resisted every 
attack, and had once more made clear the specific and 
imperative character of the Persian Gulf doctrine of British 
policy. The Government of India had in previous years 
shown some disposition to treat Gulf politics as an ordinary 
detail of administration, a little more important than the 
Andamans, perhaps, but hardly so worthy of attention as 
the problem of a refractory Maharajah who showed an 
unrighteous disposition to hammer his Prime Minister. 
Lord Curzon recalled both India and England to a sense of 

109 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the supreme importance of the Persian Gulf, and made it a 
separate and vital issue. He laid down a detailed policy 
which will serve for the guidance of his successors, and he 
saw that it was enforced at all points. 

Lord Curzon's work in the Gulf appropriately culminated 
in his own official tour in Persian and Arabian waters in 
November and December 1903. Never before had a British 
Viceroy of India passed through the Straits of Hormuz. 
He left Karachi on board the Royal Indian Marine steam- 
ship Hardinge, and there sailed with him H.M.S. Argonaut, 
a first-class cruiser, H.M.S. Hyacinth, a second-class cruiser 
(the flagship of Admiral Atkinson-Willes), and H.M.S. Fox 
and H.M.S. Pomone, third-class cruisers. At Muscat the 
squadron was met by H.M.S. Sphinx, special service vessel, 
H.M.S. Lapwing, gunboat, and the R.I.M.S. Lawrence, the 
despatch-boat of the Persian Gulf Resident. No such 
assemblage of warships had ever been seen in the Gulf and 
its approaches in modern times. The only parallel in his- 
tory was the visit of Albuquerque, Portuguese " Governor 
of India," to Hormuz in 1515 with twenty-seven vessels, 
most of which were really galleys. The cruise lasted three 
weeks, and during the greater part of it Lord Curzon was 
accompanied by Sir Arthur Hardinge, then British Minister 
at Teheran. At Muscat the town and forts, and the ships 
of the squadron, were illuminated, and at a great Durbar 
on the Aigonaut the Sultan was presented with the Grand 
Cross of the Order of the Indian Empire. At Shargah there 
was another Durbar, at which Lord Curzon delivered a 
stirring address to the Trucial Chiefs of Oman. Bunder 
Abbas was next visited, and on entering Persian territorial 
waters Lord Curzon was received by the Derya Begi, the 
Governor of the Gulf ports, on behalf of the Shah. At 
Lingah the Viceroy gave a dinner to the Derya Begi on 
board the Hardinge, and the town and ships were illu- 
minated. Then the squadron crossed to Bahrein, where 
there were further ceremonials, and afterwards it proceeded 

110 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

to Koweit, where the Viceroy was received with impressive 
honours. Sheikh Mubarak, with his sons and chief retainers, 
awaited his landing at the head of a great cavalcade of Arab 
horsemen. A spectator wrote that " amidst the firing of 
guns and the guttural shouts of the Arabs, the procession 
set off, helter-skelter, for the town across the great open 
plain, surrounded by a cloud of horsemen, who galloped 
wildly ahead, hurled their spears or discharged their carbines 
in the air, curveted, pirouetted, and went through all the 
time-honoured evolutions of an Arab field-day." In the 
intervals between these formal visits to the principal ports 
a number of points of interest and importance were called 
at and carefully examined. 

The only untoward incident occurred at Bu shire, where 
owing to a difficulty on a point of etiquette the Viceroy 
decided not to land. The Ala-ed-Dowleh, Governor- General 
of the province of Fars, had been deputed to welcome Lord 
Curzon, and elaborate preparations had been made. At the 
last moment he sought to alter the programme, insisted that 
Lord Curzon should receive him in a Persian house and not 
in the British consular building, and further that, contrary 
to previous agreement. Lord Curzon should call on him 
first. As the new arrangement implied that the Viceroy 
and the Ala-ed-Dowleh would both be staying in the same 
house, and exchanging visits across the passage, it was plain 
that a slight was intended. Russian influence, then in the 
ascendant at Teheran, was at the back of the incident. It 
had, however, an effect which was the exact reverse of what 
was intended. The people of Bushire were intensely morti- 
fied because the Viceroy would not land, and thought that 
the Ala-ed-Dowleh had " lost face," as the Chinese say. 
The Ala-ed-Dowleh quickly came to the same conclusion. 
I recall that the editor of a little Bushire newspaper, think- 
ing to curry favour, published directly afterwards the first 
of a series of articles condemning Lord Curzon's action, 
and promising to return to the subject " in our next issue." 

Ill 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

But the next issue never appeared, because the Ala-ed- 
Dowleh happened to read the article, and at that particular 
moment was prepared to wreak his wrath on the first con- 
venient victim ; so he sent for the editor, and had him 
soundly thrashed w^ith sticks by his guards. 

On his way back to Karachi Lord Curzon called at Jask 
and Pasni. No Viceroy had ever visited the coast of Mekran 
before, and at Pasni, where a Durbar was held, there was 
a large gathering of Baluchi notables. The tour, and the 
imposing conditions under Avhich it was conducted, made 
a deep impression upon the peoples of the Gulf, and did 
much to strengthen and solidify British prestige and 
authority. 

I have discussed Lord Curzon's work in the Persian Gulf 
in considerable detail, because its intrinsic importance 
seems to have escaped due recognition in England. These 
little squabbles about flags and tons of coal, these hurried 
voyages of gunboats and interviews with obscure chieftains, 
these pothers about barren islets and deserted bays, are only 
the external manifestations of a very grave and fundamental 
issue. British supremacy in India is unquestionably bound 
up with British supremacy in the Persian Gulf If we lose 
control of the Gulf, we shall not rule long in India. Out of 
the medley of facts I have set forth, the broad conclusion 
emerges that determined attempts were made, from several 
quarters, to undermine our paramountcy, and that they 
were only frustrated by ceaseless vigilance and prompt 
action. 

Why is it so necessary to retain control of the Gulf? 
There is, first of all, the duty incumbent upon us, which we 
cannot now evade, to keep the peace within its waters. If 
we were to lose our grip, piracy, slave-dealing, raids and 
counter-raids, all the characteristics of the days of barbarism, 
would at once recommence. The flare of burning coast- 
towns, scenes of rapine and bloodshed, would instantly 
remind us of our abandoned obligation. Having taken up 

112 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

the burden, we owe it to the peoples of the Gulf, who live 
in security under our guardianship, not to relinquish it. 
There is next the jieed for keeping open an important trade- 
route, in the maintenance of which both India arW England 
are concerned. There is further, as Admiral Mahan has 
repeatedly pointed out, the imperative necessity of resisting 
to the utmost the establishment of an armed and fortified 
position by any foreign Power in or near the Gulf. Why 
did France and Russia, in the days when England was not 
on good terms with them, seek to obtain a permanent foot- 
hold in these regions ? They were not looking for trade, 
and manifestly coaling stations so far from the great ocean 
highways would be of no real use to them. Their one 
object was to menace India. But — and this is the most 
important fact in the whole question of the Gulf — in order to 
disturb irreparably the rule of the British in India, it is not at 
aU necessary for a foreign Power to create a fortified base in 
Gulf waters. A mere territorial acquisition, the presence of 
a small garrison, the creation of a quite defenceless harbour 
of refuge, would suffice. The moment it became known 
that Russia, or Germany, or France, or any other powerful 
nation, had planted a post within easy reach of the shores 
of India, an ineffaceable impression of the impermanence 
of British rule would be produced throughout Hindustan. 
Industrial enterprise would be checked, native capital would 
no longer be invested, the spirit of unrest would receive a 
strong impetus, the task of holding the country, already 
difficult, might become almost impossible. India has en- 
dured many alien rulers, and they have all fallen in their 
turn. She is accustomed, and perhaps over-ready, to watch 
for the signs which in her belief portend the approaching 
doom. The appearance of a foreign Power anywhere in the 
Gulf, under however innocent a guise, would carry one irre- 
sistible conviction to the mind of every intelligent Indian. 

I say nothing of the possible danger of the creation of a 
fortified base within striking distance of our chief route to 

113 H 



*>• 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the East and to Australia. That is a question for naval 
strategists. But I have often marvelled at the placid 
affability with which able politicians and responsible news- 
papers have invited foreign Powers to share with us the 
control of the Gulf. I heard Mr. Balfour utter his 
memorable invitation to Russia to acquire a warm-water 
port in the Pacific. The immediate and not unnatural 
response was the seizure of Port Arthur. In the same way, 
and with no clearer perception of the ultimate consequences, 
journalists and orators often say that Russia ought not to be 
debarred from an outlet upon the Indian Ocean. To what 
end ? If it is for purposes of trade, there is hardly any port, 
except in those very regions, where our own trade pre- 
dominates, which Russia cannot reach more easily from the 
Baltic, the Black Sea, or the Pacific. Some soldiers of high 
repute say they would welcome the establishment of a Port 
Arthur in the Gulf. " It would make Russia more vulner- 
able " is their contention. But ships are of little avail 
against modern fortresses, and what these ardent warriors do 
not remember is that while our scanty army was seeking to 
invest the new Port Arthur, India might be aflame with wild 
revolt at the first shot of a war which carried her garrison 
far away. The idea of a fortress in the Gulf, though 
improbable, is not fantastic, as little Portugal once proved. 
The question may be academic to-day, but it was not 
academic ten years ago, and may not be so ten years hence. 
The nations are drawing nearer to the central sea of the Old 
World. 

Come what may, we have to keep our control of the Gulf 
inviolate. As Lord Lytton said : " We cannot haggle with 
destiny." Yet, as time passes, the task will become more 
difficult than it has ever been. The Baghdad Railway, 
when it is completed, will profoundly modify the conditions 
at presenr prevailing in the Gulf. No weight attaches to 
the lugubrious predictions of the prophets who say that the 
railway will never be made. Exactly the same things were 

114 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

said about the Siberian line. Mr. Balfour showed truer 
prescience when he warned the House of Commons in 1903 
that "whatever course English financiers might take, and 
whatever course the English Government may pursue, 
sooner or later this great undertaking will be carried out." 
Though I question the wisdom of British participation, 
a commercial terminus at Basra will not infringe our 
doctrine, and presents no basis for opposition. I have never 
doubted the utility of the Baghdad Railway. When the 
locomotive is traversing Mesopotamia, and when Sir William 
Willcocks has revived by irrigation the ancient fertihty of 
Chaldea, the Gulf will have been brought into close contact 
with the world without, and will be the sea route to a land 
of great prosperity. Professor Rohrbach has estimated that 
in the eighth century the plain between the Tigris and the 
Euphrates produced ten million tons of corn, and sup- 
ported a population of six millions. It may do so again, 
though now it supports barely a million. When Chaldea 
is once more a granary, and a great stream of ocean traffic 
is threading the Gulf, it will not be easy to maintain unim- 
paired the paramountcy of Great Britain. At a time when 
they were in some danger of being forgotten, Lord Curzon 
reiterated to the whole world our claims ; but it is still a 
defect of our pohcy that it rests on a negative rather than a 
constructive basis, and that we are too timorous in vindi- 
cating rights which we cannot afford to forego. Many of 
our statesmen are still reluctant to acknowledge that we are 
dealing in the Gulf, not merely with httle local questions, but 
with the safety and welfare of our rule in India. 

II, SOUTHERN PERSIA AND SEISTAN 

The specific interest of the Government of India in 
Persian affairs is not confined to the Gulf littoral, which 
has been treated as a separate issue. It extends over the 
whole of Southern Persia, and throughout the Persian 

115 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

territories which adjoin the Perso- Afghan frontier. No i 
part of this wide area is of greater importance to India 1 
than Seistan. The pro^dnce of Seistan Hes in the corner ll 
of Persia where the western frontiers of Afghanistan and I 
Baluchistan meet. It commands the valley of the h 
Helmund, that remarkable river which, after traversing 
700 miles across Afghanistan, loses itself in the vast swamps 
of the depression known as the Hamun-i- Helmund. There 
is some reason to believe that long ago the greater part 
of Seistan was entirely under water, and that much of the 
area which is now dry land was formed from silt brought 
down by the river. Its alluvial soil is extremely fertile. In 
past ages it was one of the granaries of Asia, and Alexander 
wintered within its borders with liis conquering army. For 
many centuries it was held by Persia, and under one 
dynasty even contained the capital of the Persian Empire. 
After the death of Nadir Shah, the province was included 
in the rising kingdom of Afghanistan, but much of it 
gradually lapsed again into the possession of Persia, though 
its vague boundaries were a cause of constant quarrels 
between Persians and Afghans. Persian Seistan now has 
an area of about 950 square miles, and a population esti- 
mated at 100,000. 

Seistan is practically a badly tilled oasis in the midst of 
deserts and swamps. The great barren regions which lie 
beyond its western borders make the province of great 
strategic value. At its southern extremity it touches 
British territory. Its possession would be an important 
preliminary to a comprehensive advance upon India, or an 
invasion of Afghanistan. An army marching southward 
through Eastern Persia must first seize and hold Seistan. 
Once firmly planted there, it would dominate the line of the 
Helmund, menace a British advance north-westward from 
Quetta through Kandahar, and sterilise the plan of campaign 
by which it is understood the British Army in India has 
long proposed to meet a concerted movement from the 

116 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

north. The exclusion of foreign Powers from Seistan is 
therefore a cardinal feature of the measures devised for the 
defence of India ; and it is not surprising that the province 
came into very great prominence during the period when Russia 
was endeavouring to extend her influence southward. Quite 
suddenly it became the battleground of conflicting interests. 
The Seistan question had already been intermittently 
under public notice in the guise of boundary disputes, and 
boundaries again formed one of the chief issues to which 
attention was directed. The encroachments of Persia in the 
sixties were bitterly resented by Afghanistan, and Great 
Britain was frequently asked by both sides to settle the 
quarrel. Somewhat reluctantly, the British Foreign Office 
despatched a JMission under Major-General Sir Frederic 
Goldsmid, who spent two weary years in deciding, not only 
the line of demarcation between Persia and Afghan Seistan, 
but also a portion of the Perso-Baluch frontier. His ulti- 
mate award, given in 1872, dissatisfied both Persia and 
Afghanistan, though it was accepted after demur. The 
Afghans were indignant because Persia was confirmed in 
the possession of the largest and richest sHce of Seistan ; the 
Persians grumbled because an important section of the 
Helmund was left in Afghan territory. At Kohak, a point 
south-east of Nasratabad, there is a great " Band " or dam 
across the Helmund, primitive in construction, but of much 
importance for the irrigation of Seistan. General Goldsmid 
made the river the frontier line for a great part of the way 
between the dam and the point at which it entered the 
lagoon ; but he gave all the river above the dam to the 
Afghans. It does not require an expert to perceive that 
some share in the control of a river above a dam is essential 
to successful irrigation. General Goldsmid was not oblivious 
of the fact, but though he laid it down that any undue 
interference by the Afghans with the waters of the Helmund 
would be a contravention of the spirit of the award, he 
seems to have thought such an event improbable, 

117 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

General Goldsmid had not taken into account either the 
vagaries of Nature or the disposition of the local Afghans. 
Below the dam, he had left the Persians on one side of the 
river and the Afghans on the other. But rivers in the 
sandy regions of Asia have a perplexing habit of suddenly- 
altering their course. An irrigation engineer once went to 
bed in a bungalow on the very edge of the Indus and woke 
up in the morning to find that the river was five miles away. 
The same thing happened to the Helmund, which shifted 
its course eight miles to the westward, while the great 
lagoon simultaneously altered in size and situation. The 
Afghans clung to the right bank of the river, regardless of 
documentary awards ; they showed a strong disposition 
to claim both banks below the dam ; and they further began, 
by diversions far above the dam, to deprive the Persians 
of their reasonable share of water. Disputation recom- 
menced, local at first, though in the end the quarrel was 
taken up by the authorities at Kabul and Teheran. An 
astute Russian Consul, M. JNIiller, had been sent to Seistan 
in 1900, and he espoused the Persian cause with ominous 
vigour. In 1902 the Persian Government asked for the 
intervention of Great Britain, under the clause of the Paris 
Treaty of 1857 which provided that differences between the 
Persian and Afghan Governments should be settled by the 
friendly offices of the British Government. Lord Curzon, 
at the instance of the Home Government, therefore des- 
patched Sir Henry McMahon, a frontier officer of great 
experience, at the head of a well-equipped Mission, to 
arbitrate between the rival claimants. 

Russia, then rapidly developing a keen interest in Seistan, 
was eager to take a hand in the settlement, though she had 
no possible justification for her intrusion. Three several 
attempts to thrust Russian officials upon the Mission were 
successively foiled, but Russian influence predominated in 
the camp of the Persian Commissioners. M. Miller and his 
brother, a doctor, were instrumental in persuading the 

118 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

Persian local authorities to obstruct in manifold ways Sir 
Henry McJMahon and his staff. The Mission was refused 
supplies, and at one time was even ordered back, though 
present on the unsolicited invitation of the Persian Govern- 
ment. The story of the Seistan Mission is a narrative of 
quiet firmness and of constant restraint under frequent 
provocation. The delays were interminable and the com- 
plications constant. A problem which might have been 
settled in a couple of months kept the Mission on the spot 
for over two years. It started in January 1903, and did not 
return to India until May 1905. 

Territorial adjustments had to be made, in addition to the 
settlement of the dispute about water. Both sides wished to 
infringe the Goldsmid line, and Persia was eager to secure a 
large tract of country above the dam. Sir Henry McMahon 
made some minor rectifications, but on the whole he adhered 
to the spirit of the Goldsmid award. The water difficulty 
was more complex, and it had been intensified, and partly 
produced, by a severe drought, which temporarily left the 
Helmund almost dry. After careful examination with the 
aid of experts, Sir Henry McMahon came to a decision 
which seems eminently fair. He declined to admit the 
rather ingenuous contention of the Afghans that as they 
held the whole of the river above the dam, they could do 
what they liked with all the water in it. He took a point 
called Bandar-i-Khamal Khan, about forty miles above the 
great dam, at which point he considered the Helmund first 
penetrated the whole province of Seistan as anciently 
constituted. The Persians, he said, were entitled to the use 
of one-third of all the water passing that point ; but they 
could not divert it into Persian Seistan until it reached the 
dam. A British irrigation expert was to be stationed in 
Seistan to see that neither side abstracted more than its 
allotted share of water. An important feature of the award 
was that Persia was prohibited from alienating to any other 
Power the water rights thus conferred, without the consent 

119 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of Afghanistan. The award was only accepted by the 
Governments concerned after very great delay, and the 
suggested appointment of a British irrigation officer was not 
endorsed. Owdng to the prolonged detention of the Mission, 
a project to settle in detail the undemarcated portion of the 
Perso-Baluch boundary was not proceeded with, though 
various small disputes arising therefrom were adjusted by 
negotiation at Teheran. 

The Seistan JNIission may claim to have amply fulfilled 
its object, and to have averted tlie danger of a very ugly 
quarrel. In addition to much local excitement both sides 
were moving troops towards the troubled area, and for a 
time actual conflict appeared not improbable. Lord Curzon 
watched and directed the whole of the negotiations, for he 
was in constant telegraphic communication with Sir Henry 
McINIahon ; and it was owing to his personal representations 
that the Amir consented, after some hesitation, to accept the 
rectification of the boundary. Moreover, the presence in 
Seistan for so long a time of a British Mission with a strong 
escort did much to promote good feeling between the represen- 
tatives of the Government of India and the population, in spite 
of many acts of petty hostility on the part of the local officials. 

Before Lord Curzon's arrival the Government of India 
had shown some disposition to recognise the political 
importance of Seistan. Lord Curzon himself, in his book on 
Persia, had urged that a trade-route should be opened thither 
across Balucliistan, and Colonel C. E. Yate and Sir Henry 
McMahon had later made similar representations. Lord 
Elgin so far acquiesced that in 1896 he sent Major Webb- 
Ware to Chageh, half-way between Quetta and Seistan, to 
develop a trade-route ; and to Major Webb-Ware belongs 
the credit of years of energetic toil to accomplish this 
purpose. In 1898 Lord Elgin ordered Major P. JNIolesworth 
Sykes, then Consul at Kerman, to Nasratabad, the principal 
town of Seistan, as a temporary measure ; but he was 
opposed to any very active display of British interest in 

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PERSIA AND TIBET 

Seistan, because he feared that it might precipitate the 
extension of Russian influence in the province. 

Lord Curzon very soon took a different view. He was 
forced to do so, long before the Seistan Mission was asked 
for, because the advent of M. JNIiller had modified the 
situation ; but the pressure of circumstances coincided with 
his own inchnation. He had a strong behef in the possibili- 
ties of trade by land with Seistan, and a vivid perception of 
the necessity of excluding the province from Russian control. 
His belief in the openings for trade was over-sanguine, 
because there will never be much trade with Seistan until it 
recovers its lost prosperity ; but it would be difficult to 
exaggerate the necessity of preserving it from foreign 
aggression. The only possible course, however, was the 
further development of British trade and interests, and after 
establishing a permanent Consulate at Nasratabad Lord 
Curzon set himself to the task. The greater part of the 
route through Baluchistan lay across trackless desert, bitterly 
cold in winter, fiercely hot in summer. Traders would not 
traverse it unless ample facilities were provided. Major 
Webb- Ware had begun to dig wells, to build rest-houses, to 
organise camel transport, and to establish levy posts for the 
protection of trade. The methods he initiated were greatly 
extended, and by the time Lord Curzon left India the route 
was well established. The Government of India acquired 
from the Khan of Khelat control of the district of Nushki, for 
an annual quit-rent, and built a railway from Quetta to 
Nushki, a distance of 93 miles. The object of the railway, 
which is on the standard gauge, was to overcome the 
mountainous descent from the Quetta plateau to the desert, 
hitherto a great obstacle to caravans. From Nushki to the 
frontier post at Robat Kila, a distance of 327 miles, a rough 
road was made, divided into nineteen stages. From Robat 
Kila to Nasratabad is another 106 miles. A postal service 
was opened along the route, frequent telegraph offices 
were established, and even in the midst of the desert native 

121 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

shops were soon to be found. It cannot be said that the 
volume of trade has fulfilled the sanguine expectations 
originally formed, but it is steadily increasing. In 1909- 
10 the total value was over £83,000, and it has since 
become higher. Major Kennion, formerly British Consul for 
Nasratabad, has expressed the belief that owing to the 
insecurity of the routes from the Gulf the Nushki route 
will become more popular ; and his prediction is being 
fulfilled. It can never be a great highway of trade until the 
distant day when Persia is regenerated. 

The squalid story of Russian intrigues in Seistan between 
1900 and 1905 does not deserve detailed recapitulation. It 
is a long record of efforts to produce hostility to British 
interests, and hatred of British representatives. Trade was 
harassed, and the Belgian customs officers, even more com- 
plaisant in Seistan than in the Gulf, became for a time the 
open allies of the Russian Consul. Efforts were made to 
compass the downfall of the Hashmat-ul-Mulk, the here- 
ditary Governor of Seistan, because he showed himself sym- 
pathetic to the British ; and they were only defeated by the 
strong remonstrance of Sir Arthur Hardinge at Teheran. 
Russia instituted a mock quarantine cordon against the 
imaginary danger of plague, which was broken down after 
years of protest by the posting of a British Consul and a 
doctor to Turbat-i-Haidari, far to the north of Nasratabad. 
It is even believed that at one period the Russian Govern- 
ment actually tried to purchase Seistan, most of the pro- 
vince being Crown land. As in the Gulf, the disasters of 
the Japanese War at length put an end to Russian pressure 
in Seistan. The position also became easier because M. 
Miller allowed his zeal so far to outrun his discretion that 
he had to be judiciously transferred to another post. He 
fomented an anti-British riot in Nasratabad, and when it 
failed, and the ringleaders were punished, he sought the less 
contentious atmosphere of Kerman. The net result of Lord 
Curzon's vigilant attitude regarding Seistan was that, if trade 

122 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

did not entirely fulfil expectations, the efforts of Russia to 
gain a preponderating influence were thwarted, and British 
interests were securely established. What was at that time 
far more important was that the exclusion of foreign control 
from Seistan became a definite part of British policy. 

The province is no longer likely to share the fate of 
Northern Khorasan. By the Anglo-Russian Convention, the 
whole of Persian Seistan has now been declared to be within 
the British sphere of influence, and the Seistan question has 
ceased to keep the Foreign Office at Simla awake o' nights. 
Properly administered, Persian Seistan might again become 
one of the gardens of the East. The traveller through its 
solitudes stumbles upon ruined cities, sometimes several 
miles in extent, which attest its forgotten glories. A journey 
in Seistan is one long revelation of the devastating con- 
sequences of neglect and misrule. 

Elsewhere in Southern Persia active steps were taken to 
consolidate and develop British influence, and to extend 
British trade. The number of Consular officers was consider- 
ably increased. The Kerman Consulate was made per- 
manent instead of temporary ; Consuls were stationed at 
Shiraz and Kermanshah, and Vice-Consuls at Ahwaz and 
Bam ; a military attache was sent to the Meshed Consulate, 
and an officer of the Indian Army was chosen for a similar 
position at the Teheran Legation ; special arrangements 
were made for training Indian officers to fill the new posts 
created in the Gulf, in Southern Persia, and along the 
Afghan frontier ; and a scheme was devised for supplying 
to each Consulate suitable military escorts, the need for 
which was soon apparent when the country fell into disorder 
after the revolution. 

The system of communications was also improved. With 
the approval of the Persian Government, a telegraph line 
was constructed from the Baluchistan frontier across the 
Lut desert to Kashan, and direct overland communication 
from India to Europe was thus established for the first time. 

123 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Messrs. Lynch, who are the real pioneers of British trade at 
the head of the Gulf, built a road from Ahwaz to Isfahan, 
through the Bakhtiari mountains. It was opened in 1900, 
though the negotiations which preceded its construction 
were completed before Lord Curzon went to India. The 
road is Uttle more than a mule track, and it has deteriorated 
of late, but it is becoming an important highway of trade 
now that the Shiraz route is almost blocked by banditti. 
The chief obstacle to its success is the heavy tolls imposed 
by the greedy Bakhtiari tribesmen. Another project for a 
road from the Karun River through Luristan to Teheran, 
for which the Imperial Bank of Persia holds a concession, 
remains incomplete, and a scheme for a road from Bunder 
Abbas to Bam has never advanced beyond the stage of pre- 
liminary investigation. In 1904-05 a British Indian Com- 
mercial Mission was sent by Lord Curzon to South-Eastern 
Persia, to investigate the commercial resources of the country 
lying between Bunder Abbas, Kerman, and Yezd. The 
Mission was supported by the Upper India Chamber of 
Commerce and the Indian Tea Cess Committee, and was 
headed by Mr. A. H. Gleadowe-Newcomen, an able com- 
mercial man who has had large experience of Indian trade. 
The journey lasted six months, during which time the Mis- 
sion traversed over 2000 miles of Persian territory. IVIr. 
Gleadowe-Newcomen presented an admirable report, full of 
excellent suggestions, but the chief moral to be drawn from 
his inquiries is that the growth of trade in Persia depends 
before everything else upon good roads and rapid means of 
transit. The first need of Persia, given efficient and honest 
government, is not railways, but roads. 

Another subject of importance dealt with during Lord 
Curzon's Viceroyalty was that of the Persian customs 
administration, together with the cognate question of tariff 
revision. In 1898 the Persian Government pledged the 
customs of Bushire and Kermanshah as security for a loan 
from the Imperial Bank of Persia, a British institution. 

124 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

In 1903 Great Britain lent Persia, through the Imperial 
Bank, £200,000, and in 1904 a further sum of £100,000, the 
security being the post and telegraph revenues, the Caspian 
Sea fishery dues, and the customs of *' Fars and the Persian 
Gulf." The last-named term includes Mohammerah and the 
other ports of Persian Arabistan. The Imperial Bank 
negotiated a further loan of £1,250,000 during 1911. It will 
be noted that Great Britain therefore has a very special interest 
in the customs of Southern Persia, and has, in fact, obtained 
repeated assurances from the Persian Government that they 
shall not be pledged to any foreign Power. That interest 
is supplemented by the written promise obtained from the 
late Shah Nasr-ed-din, and afterwards confirmed by Muzaffar- 
ed-din, that no southern railway concession would be granted 
to any foreign Power without previous consultation with the 
British Government, that if railway concessions were granted 
in the north similar concessions would be granted to Great 
Britain in the south, and that Great Britain should have a 
prior right to build a railway to Teheran. Sir Edward 
Grey stated in the House of Commons in April 1910, that this 
explicit undertaking was regarded as still binding, though it 
would only be exercised to the extent prescribed by the 
Anglo - Russian Agreement. In pursuance thereof, the 
British Government applied in April 1911 for an option 
for a line from the head of the Gulf northwards through 

Ahwaz and Shuster. 

The organisation of the Belgian Customs Administration 
was soon followed by a movement for tariff revision. For 
many years foreign imports and exports had been subjected 
to five per cent, duty, and as is very well known by old Gulf 
traders, even that modest impost was not always rigidly 
collected. Persia was eager to increase her customs revenue, 
and Russia was willing to oblige her. In 1902 a Tariff 
Convention was secretly concluded between the Russian and 
Persian Governments, which was very favourable to Russian 
trade, and highly prejudicial to Great Britain. The British 

125 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Foreign Office became aware of the negotiations just in 
time to mitigate their worst consequences. A separate com- 
mercial treaty between Great Britain and Persia, on the 
lines of the Convention with Russia, was hurriedly arranged, 
and was even promulgated five days earlier than the Russian 
compact. It did not save British trade from the unfair dis- 
criminations deftly introduced under the new tariff, but it 
lessened their detrimental effect. The real reason of the 
decline of British and Indian trade with Persia during the 
last two or three years is not so much the higher import 
duties or Russian competition, but rather the hopelessly 
chaotic state of the country. 

Since Lord Curzon's return to England, events have 
moved very rapidly in Persia, and the motion has generally 
been downhill. The Shah Muzaffar-ed-din, yielding to the 
popular clamour for representative institutions, convoked a 
National Council or Mejliss in 1906, and died in the following 
January. He was succeeded by his son Mohamed Ali, who 
took the oath of fidelity to the new Constitution, but in 
1908 bombarded the Parliament House and broke up the 
Council. Several cities and provinces of Persia rose in 
revolt against him, and when a force of Bakhtiaris and other 
tribesmen entered Teheran in July 1909, he abdicated under 
pressure and withdrew to the Crimea. His son. Sultan 
Ahmed INIirza, a boy of eleven years, was placed upon the 
throne, and the JNIejliss reassembled. Mohamed Ali has 
since returned and raised a revolt. It is no injustice to 
the " Nationalist " party to say that under the Constitution 
the state of Persia is far worse than it ever was under the 
autocratic rule of former Shahs. Ministries at Teheran 
are constantly changing, the Treasury was until recently 
bare, and Isfahan and other cities are in the hands of 
reckless tribesmen. The Mejliss has not yet shown the 
capacity to create an efficient system of control, though the 
appointment of Mr. Shuster and other Americans to handle 
Persian finances raises hopes of better things. 

126 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

While Mohamed Ali was playing fast and loose with the 
Constitution in 1907, Great Britain and Russia were quietly 
settling the character of their respective interests in Persia 
and elsewhere. The result of their mutual communications 
was the Anglo-Russian Convention, signed on August 31, 
1907. The supporters of the Convention, who probably repre- 
sent a majority of both great political parties in the United 
Kingdom, contend that while it possibly involved some 
sacrifice of British interests, it is justified because a broad 
examination of international conditions shows that it makes 
for peace. The value of a cordial understanding with 
Russia, it is argued, is far greater than the local and limited 
advantages which may have been lost. As abstract proposi- 
tions, I do not now seek to dispute these contentions. The 
long recital in this volume of past exasperating differences 
with Russia in Persia and the Gulf, is the strongest possible 
proof that more friendly relations were eminently desirable. 
It may further be admitted that, up to the present, the framers 
of the Convention have been to a great extent vindicated 
by the results attained. The arrangement has tended, 
even more than the war in Manchuria, to remove the fear of 
a Russian advance which so long oppressed those charged 
with the defence of India. During the prolonged troubles 
in Persia, it has been the surest guarantee of undiminished 
mutual confidence between Russia and ourselves. Under 
occasional severe provocation, Russia has steadfastly refrained 
from intervening in Northern Persia, except when absolutely 
compelled to do so for the protection of her nationals. One 
hesitates to think of the entanglements into which both 
nations might have been drawn after the death of MuzafFar- 
ed-din, had it not been for the safeguards and the assurances 
which the Convention contained. Still more may it be said 
that it has had a steadying influence upon the European situa- 
tion, and upon affairs in the Far East, during recent critical 
periods. These are great gains, and the supporters of the Con- 
vention are legitimately entitled to make the most of them 

127 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Nevertheless, though the Convention may have served 
its immediate purpose, I beheve that its full effects have 
still to be unfolded, and that it may yet be found to have 
produced serious dangers in Persia, as well as in Afghanistan 
and Tibet. No strong stress need be laid upon the insult it 
implies to Persia, though even that aspect of its provisions 
may some day become an appreciable factor. There can be 
no doubt that it gave grave offence to the Persians. Lord 
Curzon remarked in the House of Lords debate on 
February 6, 1908 : 

" I am almost astounded at the coolness, I might even 
say the effrontery, with which the British Government is in 
the habit of parcelling out the the territory of Powers whose 
independence and integrity it assures them at the same time 
it has no other intention than to preserve, and only informs 
the Power concerned of the arrangement that has been 
made after the agreement has been concluded." 

Possibly these reproaches did not come with a very good 
grace from Lord Curzon, who was not always conspicuously 
punctilious in his treatment of Persian territory ; yet their 
force cannot be denied. The arrangements concerning 
Afghanistan were at least made conditional upon the Amir's 
assent, but in the case of Persia no sanction was ever sought. 
There is something amazingly cynical in the spirit in which 
Western Powers dispose of the heritage of other races. In 
India we had the justification that there was no settled and 
ordered government, and that the country was torn asunder 
by internal strife. No complete parallel to those conditions 
is yet visible in China or in Persia. Asia, moreover, is not 
like other parts of the world where the West has entered 
into possession. In America and Australia the Western 
Powers found huge territories very scantily peopled. In 
Africa they came into contact with populations whose 
development had been arrested for many centuries. In 
Asia, on the other hand, they were confronted with ancient 

128 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

peoples in a high state of civilisation, from whom the West 
had derived much of its knowledge. Though the appear- 
ance of the white races in the East has on the whole been of 
inestimable benefit to Asia, it will not be surprising if Asia 
in her turn exacts a terrible retribution for the spoliation 
which has too frequently accompanied it. 

These considerations, however, are not likely to appeal to 
Occidental Governments in the present state of public 
feeling. It remains, therefore, to examine the sphere of 
influence in Persia which Great Britain selected as her own. 
What is a sphere of influence ? Lord Curzon thus defined 
it in his Romanes lecture on *' Frontiers," in 1907 : 

" A Sphere of Influence is a less developed form than a 
Protectorate, but it is more developed than a Sphere of 
Interest. It implies a stage at which no exterior Power but 
one may assert itself in the territory so described, but in 
which the degree of responsibility assumed by the latter 
may vary greatly with the needs or temptations of the 
case. The native Government is as a rule left undisturbed ; 
indeed its unabated sovereignty is sometimes specifically 
reaffirmed ; but commercial exploitation and political influ- 
ence are regarded as the peculiar right of the interested 
Power." 

It will thus be seen that the recognition of a sphere of 
influence secures large privileges to the possessing Powen 
Under the Anglo-Russian Convention Persia was divided 
into three spheres. Great Britain obtained the south-east 
corner, including all the territory within a line drawn from 
the Afghan frontier through Gazik, Birjand, and Kerman to 
the sea at Bunder Abbas. Her sphere comprises Persian 
Seistan, most of the province of Kerman, and Persian 
Mekran. Russia secured the whole of Northern Persia. 
Her sphere extends through all territory north of a line 
drawn from Kasr-i-Shirin, on the Turkish frontier, through 
Isfahan, Yezd, and Kahk to the point where the Russian 

129 I 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

and Afghan frontiers intersect. Half the entire country- 
comes under her influence. The intervening regions, 
including the greater part of Southern Persia and the whole 
of the Gulf coast on the Persian side, constitute the third or 
neutral sphere. The areas allotted to Great Britain are 
thus exceedingly disproportionate. Lord Curzon has pointed 
out that she has only one city of any size — Kerman — as 
against eleven in the Russian sphere, and only one trade route 
as against seven in the north. Moreover, the British sphere 
consists largely of sterile soil and is very thinly populated. 

Why did Great Britain concede so much to Russia and 
limit her own sphere within such narrow borders ? I think 
I am able to supply the explanation. The boundary was 
thus fixed at the instance of Lord Kitchener, though he is in 
no sense responsible for the decision. It is understood that 
Lord Kitchener was asked what portion of Persia he would 
undertake to hold and defend with the troops then at his 
disposal in India. He replied that he could only hold 
Seistan and the country between Kerman and Bunder 
Abbas, the approaches to which from the north were largely 
desert. His report seems to have decided the character and 
extent of the British sphere. Obviously, however, if the 
Convention was really intended to " respect the integrity and 
independence of Persia," military considerations should not 
have dominated the delineation of spheres. The question was, 
not what we could defend, but what interests we desired to 
preserve and develop. A large proportion of British interests 
lay in the province of Ears and Arabistan, at Bushire, at 
Shiraz, at Isfahan, and along the Karun River. Voluntarily, 
by our own act, we dissociated ourselves from these interests, 
and abandoned our preferential position in regions where 
British trade and British prestige had been built up by many 
decades of work and sacrifice. Nor was this all. Even in 
delineation of the exiguous British sphere, the framers of the 
Convention blundered. With innumerable experts at their 
disposal, with many naval oflicers, military officers, and 

180 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

travellers within call who knew the localities concerned, they 
blundered very badly. They drew their sphere on strategic 
lines, and left the southern key outside it. The key to the 
entrance to the Gulf is not the bare beaches of Bunder 
Abbas, but the islands and the anchorages which lie before 
it — Hormuz and Larak, Henjam and Kishm and the 
Clarence Straits. The line should at least have been drawn 
to Lingah, so as to make it clear that the British sphere 
really included the whole entrance to the Gulf, which these 
islands and anchorages command. It is no answer to say 
that these positions can be seized at any time by the Royal 
Navy. They ought to have been included in the Conven- 
tion. The real truth was that nobody thought about them 
until it was too late. 

If Persia was to be divided into spheres of influence at 
all, the only reasonable and equitable proceeding would have 
been to take a line from Seistan through Isfahan to the 
Karun River, and to declare all the country south of that 
line within the British sphere. That would have given 
Great Britain the full area in which her influence already 
predominated. A neutral zone might still have been pre- 
served between the Russian and British spheres. The 
demarcation need not have implied, and should not have 
implied, any necessity to defend Southern Persia by military 
force. Military considerations, as I have said, ought not to 
have entered into an arrangement which professed to be 
essentially pacific. When Sir Edward Grey was criticised 
by the late Earl Percy, he sheltered himself behind the fact 
that we had acquired a preferential position in Seistan. 
That was a considerable advantage, but it did not atone 
for the sacrifice of British interests elsewhere. Lord Fitz- 
maurice, perhaps inadvertently, disclosed the real situation 
in the course of the Lords debate. Asked why the im- 
portant trade-route through Khanikin to Baghdad had been 
allowed to fall within the Russian sphere, he replied : '* I 
venture to say that if we had attempted to cut that district 

131 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

out of the Russian sphere T should not this evening be 
defending any arrangement at all." There lay the whole 
secret in a nutshell. The negotiators of the Convention 
were so eager to come to terms with Russia that they were 
ready to concede anything. The Convention has given us 
better relations with Russia, but it remains an exceedingly 
imperfect instrument. It has weakened our position in 
Southern Persia, the Afghanistan section is in some ways 
a dead letter, and in Tibet, where both Powers imposed upon 
themselves a self-denying ordinance, it has enabled China 
to replace suzerainty by sovereignty, to the very great 
detriment of the Tibetans. These are Pyrrhic triumphs. 

The worst feature of the Convention is its political effect 
upon British interests in Southern Persia. Those interests 
were not expHcitly defined, but they were substantial, and they 
were tacitly recognised by all nations. We have repeatedly 
asserted the peculiar and special character of our interests in 
the Gulf. They were not confined to its waters; they did 
not stop with the shore ; they extended far inland. We 
have now deliberately announced, in effect, that we have 
no special interests to conserve in the whole expanse of 
Southern Persia from the Straits of Hormuz to the Shatt-al- 
Arab. The implied declaration constitutes a direct invitation 
to other Powers to establish their influence in places where 
our predominance was hitherto practically unchallenged. 
We have performed a superfluous act of renunciation. In 
that respect, at any rate, it would have been far better to 
have left the situation as it was. 

The Convention further has a deleterious influence upon 
the doctrine of British paramountcy in the Gulf. That 
doctrine refers to land as well as sea. If it does not at least 
include the Persian littoral it is worthless ; yet we have 
expressly excluded the Persian shore of the Gulf from our 
sphere. Having thus, by formal treaty, implied an infringe- 
ment of the Gulf doctrine. Sir Edward Grey proceeded to 
reaffirm British claims in the Gulf in a letter addressed to 

132 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

Sir A. Nicolson at St. Petersburg. He took comfort from 
the fact that the Russian Government had stated that they 
" do not deny " the special interests of Great Britain in the 
Gulf. The admission is satisfactory so far as it goes, but it 
has never been reduced to writing by Russia, and it rests 
to-day upon the mere verbal assurance of a Russian Am- 
bassador. I believe that, partly as a consequence of this 
Convention, the time is coming when our claim to para- 
mountcy in the Gulf will be directly challenged. The 
question will possibly come to a head when the Shatt-al- 
Arab is connected by sea with the Mediterranean. So long 
ago as 1892 M. Deloncle asserted in the French Chamber 
that England's claim "to keep order by herself in the 
Persian Gulf," and to be "sovereign arbiter of all disputes 
between the Arab, Persian, and Turkish chiefs " of the Gulf, 
was exercised *'in a form European diplomacy has never 
recognised." M. Deloncle held no official position at the 
time, but his words were not without significance. More 
recently the German Press, at the time of the Abu Musa 
incident, showed a distinct disposition to question the 
British position in the Gulf As time passes these tenden- 
cies will probably develop, and if we are not then prepared to 
maintain and vindicate our paramountcy in its present form, 
we may lose the position we have so laboriously created. 

The future of Persia is clouded with uncertainty. Unless 
a strong and stable Government is evolved within a limited 
time, the whole country must fall to pieces. Already 
Sheikh Khazaal and other chieftains in the south have 
formed a confederacy to resist the encroachments of the 
Bakhtiari tribes. Nearly every province is infested with 
banditti, the trade-routes are left desolate, the cities have 
lost nearly every vestige of orderly control, the Teheran 
authorities have no grip upon the provincial administrations. 
No other country in the world is in such a chaotic con- 
dition. Persia is rapidly deliquescing. The Ministry which 
entered office in July 1910 began by showing signs of 

133 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

strength, and disarmed the turbulent revolutionaries in the 
capital, but it soon lost its energy. Later JNIinistries 
have done little better. Great Britain and Russia have 
so far resolutely elected to permit Persia to work out 
her own salvation, and have abstained from intervention 
except for the protection of their nationals. The policy 
is a wise one, but it is a question whether it has not been 
carried to extremes in Southern Persia. We have been so 
careful to avoid interference that our passive attitude is 
now mistaken for weakness, and the presence of our repre- 
sentatives as spectators has ceased to act as a deterrent of 
strife and anarchy. Every friend of Persia hopes that the 
Nationalists may in the end evolve an efficient administra- 
tion, but the present situation cannot continue indefinitely. 
If Persia does not recover balance, the two Powers most 
interested may eventually be compelled to intervene, even 
against their own desires. 

III. TIBET 

The other great external episode associated with Lord 
Curzon's Viceroy alty was the unveiling of Lhasa. It is not 
necessary to relate here in detail the dramatic story of the 
Tibet Mission. I have recounted at length the history of 
Lord Curzon's policy on the North- West Frontier, and in 
Persia and the Gulf, because the facts are not readily acces- 
sible ; but the expedition to Lhasa has already found 
numerous chroniclers. Its motives and its experiences are 
alike set forth in the picturesque narratives of JVIr. Perceval 
Landon and Mr. Edmund Candler, in the more sober record 
of Colonel Waddell, and in the exhaustive and authoritative 
account recently issued by Sir Francis Younghusband, the 
leader of the Mission. The despatches of which it formed 
the subject are printed in voluminous Blue Books. My 
only purpose is to state certain views regarding its conduct 
and its results. 

134 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

In doing so, it is necessary to say first that no incident 

during Lord Curzon's rule was made the text for more 

stupid and groundless criticism than the Mission to Lhasa. 

The public were asked to believe that the expedition was 

merely an instrument sent to gratify the curiosity of a 

Viceroy who was also an ardent geographer. They were 

told, in another vein, that Lord Curzon had brought misery 

and death to an inoffensive people in a frustrated attempt 

to emulate Lord Dufferin by enlarging the boundaries of 

the Indian Empire. The impression thus created was 

deepened when differences about the Lhasa Treaty arose 

between the Home authorities and the Government of India, 

and it was further accentuated by the tone of the later 

despatches of the Secretary of State, Mr. St. John Brodrick, 

now Viscount Midleton. Though I never ascribed the 

motives I have mentioned, I was among those who at first 

opposed the entry into Tibet, and may therefore claim to 

regard the question with some degree of impartiality. The 

ultimate revelation of the reasons which impelled Lord 

Curzon to advocate the constitution of the Tibet INIission 

ought to have been sufficient for all reasonable men. 

No one who has gazed upon the mighty peaks of the 
Himalayas beyond Darjeeling can fail to feel instinctively 
that they are the natural northern boundary of India. On 
moonlit nights their majesty is beyond expression. High in 
the sky above the blue haze, they seem like the tents of the 
gods. They set a barrier to man's dominion which no ruler 
of India has ever sought to disregard. Yet they have been 
no obstacle to human intercourse, for through the narrow 
passes pilgrims and traders have passed to and fro between 
Tibet and India from time immemorial. A hundred years 
ago a Chinese army even crossed the range, and with in- 
credible persistence advanced almost within sight of the 
capital of Nepal. 

Tibet is not so poor as it seems. The race which 
crowned so many hills with great temples and monasteries, 

135 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

and once for a brief space even threatened to dominate 
China, is not destitute of material resources. The trade of 
Tibet is considerable, and might be far greater were the 
country not bound in fetters forged by monkish intolerance. 
The saucer-like depressions amid the high places of Western 
Tibet, produced by glacial action in the days when the 
mountains towered for eight miles towards the skies, prob- 
ably contain the richest deposits of placer gold in the world. 
A pannikin of soil washed anywhere in these cups reveals 
visible traces of flake gold. Riches beside which the wealth 
of Klondike would seem meagre lie in the heart of a vast 
inhospitable emptiness, rarely traversed by man. 

The natural aspiration of India to increase its trade with 
Tibet is not necessarily stimulated by dreams of conquest. 
It is anomalous for a great Empire to find on its frontier a 
land to which access is barred, which is reluctant to admit 
merchandise, and will not even enter into friendly com- 
munication. So thought Warren Hastings, who sent 
envoys into! Tibet ; but their work was soon undone by the 
Chinese. Every British attempt to establish trade relations 
with the Tibetans has split in the past upon the rock of 
Chinese obstruction. From first to last, the suzerainty of 
China over Tibet has been deliberately exercised to main- 
tain isolation. 

The Tibetan populace has usually been well disposed, 
but the priestly hierarchy has joined hands with the mandarins 
of China in closing the gates. The monks have on occasion 
incited the people against us. After the failure of Warren 
Hastings, the Bengal Government left Tibet alone for a 
century. A Mission to Lhasa was eventually organised in 
1886, but countermanded. The Tibetans, no doubt prompted 
by their leaders and the Chinese, took advantage of the 
collapse of the Mission to make an inexplicable invasion 
of British territory. They are marvellous wall-builders, 
and in one night they built a wall within our frontier over 
three miles long. Our troops promptly expelled them, but 

136 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

forbore to follow up the advantage they gained. Negotia- 
tions with China ensued, and in 1890 a Convention was 
concluded, which settled the boundary between Sikkim and 
Tibet, and provided that Joint Commissioners should meet 
to consider the questions of facilities for trade, pasturage 
for Tibetan cattle in Sikkim, and mutual methods of 
communication. 

The Convention practically came to naught. The Chinese 
professed to be unable to enforce it, and the Tibetans, who 
had begun to realise the weakening of Chinese influence, 
declined, in effect, to be bound by an agreement made 
with China. As Lord Curzon afterwards remarked, the 
relations between India and Tibet moved in a vicious circle. 
Chinese and Tibetans each denied the validity of arrange- 
ments made by the other with India. Both played the 
game of Spenlow and Jorkins to perfection, but it was 
noticeable that the chief hostility came at that time from 
the Tibetan authorities. They had begun to dream of 
emancipating themselves from the control of the Middle 
Kingdom, and of entering into intimate relations with 
Russia. The Joint Commissioners met, and entered into 
a further agreement in 1893 which was not worth the paper 
on which it was written. A trade mart established at 
Yatung, in a saddle of the mountains, proved unsuitable. 
The Tibetans built one of their favourite walls to prevent 
their traders from reaching it. They levied a duty on 
Indian goods in defiance of their promise. Above all, they 
repudiated the boundary accepted by China. 

Lord Curzon, on reaching India, found relations with 
Tibet at an absolute deadlock. His letters to the Dalai 
Lama were returned unopened. A tour made along the 
frontier by Mr. Claude White, a political officer of much 
experience, was unproductive. A proposal made by the 
Chinese Government for a further conference between 
Mr. White and Chinese and Tibetan representatives led to 
no result. Lord Curzon sent to Khamba Jong, on the 

137 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Tibetan frontier, not only Mr. White, but also Colonel 
Francis Younghusband, then Resident at Indore. He had met 
Colonel Younghusband in Chitral in 1894, and had rightly 
conceived a high opinion of his judgment and capacity. The 
Commissioners lingered for months during 1903 at Khamba 
Jong, but in vain. The officials who met them were inferior 
in rank, and unwilling to negotiate. The Tibetans utilised 
the delay to make ostentatious military preparations, and 
stopped all trade. China asked for further postponement, 
but seemed unable to influence the situation. 

There was a good reason for the paralysis of Chinese 
influence. The Emperor's suzerainty over Tibet had almost 
ceased to exist. The Chinese Residents in Lhasa had long 
lost effective control. For the first time for many decades, 
a Dalai Lama had grown to manhood instead of suffering 
that untimely death which had been the lot of his pre- 
decessors. His tutor during his minority had been one 
Dorjieff^, a Siberian Buriat professing the Buddhist faith. 
Dorjieff* was a Russian subject, and had gained great in- 
fluence during his twenty years' residence in Lhasa. He 
was received by the Tsar, as an envoy from the Dalai Lama, 
in 1900 and again in 1901, at a time when the communica- 
tions of the Viceroy of India were being treated with silent 
contempt. He returned to Lhasa bearing rich gifts from 
Russia, as well as presents of more sinister import. The 
evidence of Kawaguchi, the Japanese devotee who was in 
Lhasa at the time, seems indisputable. He declares that of 
five hundred camels which arrived carrying presents, one- 
half were laden with small arms and ammunition ; and it 
does not much detract from the significance of his state- 
ments that, as was afterwards found, the Tibetans let the 
rifles rust and were unable to use many of them in their 
hour of need. Dorjieff" played a double game. In Lhasa 
he represented the Tsar as an incarnation of the founder of 
the Tibetan religion, eager to build up a great Buddhist 
Empire ; in St. Petersburg and Yalta he declared that the 

138 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

Dalai Lama sought Russian protection. A people who 
believed that Queen Victoria was an incarnation of the god- 
dess of their Jo-khang temple found no difficulty in accept- 
ing assurances of the divinity of the Tsar ; and Russia was 
not unwilling to extend her influence in a direction which 
seemed so promising. DorjiefF's path in Tibet was sys- 
tematically paved with Russian gold ; and whatever his 
original purpose may have been, he became in the end, and 
was perhaps from the outset, an emissary of the Russian 
Government. 

The comings and goings of DorjiefF did not escape the 
official attention of Great Britain. There were ambassadorial 
interviews, at which the British interlocutor was assured 
that the Buriat priest had visited Russia on a religious 
mission. A concurrent report that Russia had concluded 
a secret agreement with China for the establishment of a 
Russian protectorate over Tibet was strenuously denied. 
Nevertheless, a communication from the Russian Ambas- 
sador in London, in which Russia sought to protest against 
the supposed despatch of a British expedition to Tibet, 
caused great uneasiness. It looked for a time as though 
Russia claimed the right to a special position regarding the 
affairs of Tibet ; and though a subsequent interview between 
Count Benckendorff and Lord Lansdowne served to modify 
this impression, the intrigues of Russian agents — for there had 
been more than one — were still regarded with considerable 
apprehension. In any case the communications between the 
Dalai Lama and the Tsar had produced an unfortunate 
effisct. Dorjieff was in Lhasa in 1903 still deluding his 
victim into the belief that he had Russia at his back. His 
action at this stage was no doubt unauthorised, but it was 
sufficiently mischievous to accelerate hostilities. 

The Russian intrigue at Lhasa is so far a closed episode 
that it can be discussed dispassionately and without offence. 
Whether the Russian Foreign Office instigated Dorjieff in 
the first instance, or whether Dorjieff gradually interested 

139 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the Russian Government in his schemes, does not now matter 
very much. The point which a careful examination of all 
the evidence reveals is that by his policy of persistence Lord 
Curzon crushed a cleverly veiled design. Had he been con- 
tent to accept continuous rebuffs on the Tibetan frontier, 
had he not constantly urged the Home Government to 
sanction the steps he proposed, there can be little doubt 
that Russian influence might have been paramount in Lhasa 
to-day. The suzerainty of China was all but extinguished. 
The Dalai Lama was communicating with Russia with all 
the freedom of an independent ruler, regardless of protests 
from Peking. Russia had not then met Japan in deadly 
conflict, and was still pursuing her dream of Asiatic expan- 
sion. Her Government would have been more than human 
had they refused to listen to the appeals of Dorjieff, uttered 
with the complacent approval of the pliant head of the 
Tibetan priesthood. When Dorjieff" boasted that there 
would soon be Cossacks in the streets of lihasa, he saw 
whither events were trending. There is good reason to 
believe that in a few years Russia would have declared a 
protectorate. It is commonly said now that the British 
expedition to Tibet had no permanent result ; but the 
statement ignores the cardinal outcome of Lord Curzon's 
\'igorous policy. From the moment he showed his deter- 
mination to grapple boldly with the Tibetan question, Russian 
pretensions grew shadowy ; and if the expedition brought 
about the ultimate restoration of Chinese suzerainty, at least 
it put an end to the scheme for making Lhasa a new centre 
of Russian influence. 

Despite the precedent of the Chinese invasion of Nepal, 
no sane man would dream that Russian troops could ever 
enter India by way of Lhasa. The presence of a permanent 
Russian Mission so near the Indian border, and the extinc- 
tion of Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, would, however, have 
had a most disturbing influence upon India. Against its 
consequences even the mountains would have been no 

140 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

protection. The British advance to Lhasa unquestionably 
saved us from that menace. It might have become very 
real had the Government of India remained supine. 

The actual story of the Mission is now familiar. Sanction 
for an advance to Gyantse, about half-way to Lhasa, was 
given on November 6, 1903. The Secretary of State insisted 
that the advance was only for the purpose of obtaining 
reparation, that there was to be no permanent intervention 
in Tibetan affairs, and that the Mission should withdraw as 
soon as its object had been attained. No army in the 
world has ever before conducted a campaign — for that is 
what the expedition soon became — at an altitude frequently 
as high as the summit of Mont Blanc. At the engagement 
in the Karo Pass the Gurkhas were operating at a height of 
19,000 feet. The whole enterprise was a triumph of 
organisation and daring, and at no time was its success more 
creditable than during the return journey. Colonel Young- 
husband says that Lord Cromer afterwards remarked to him 
that he thought most Englishmen could reach Lhasa, but 
" what he considered really praiseworthy Avas our getting 
back again." 

The incident which attracted most attention during the 
advance was the fight at Guru on JNlarch 31, 1904, when the 
Tibetans attacked the British troops in the moment of 
apparent surrender. Their action was partly due to the 
numbed stupidity of their commander, and perhaps also to a 
misunderstanding of the causes of our long forbearance, 
which to them implied weakness. They lost GOO killed 
and wounded, and the story of their mournful retreat at a 
walking pace under fire made melancholy reading in the 
newspapers. Some such encounter was, however, inevitable 
when once the Tibetans had resolved to offer opposition. 
They believed, like the Boxers, that they were invulnerable 
to rifle bullets, and when the truth dawned upon them they 
were stupefied. For an instant the Mission was in actual 
danger; and the best proof that there was no persistent 

141 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

retaliation is that the British soldiers only fired thirteen 
rounds per man. Colonel Waddell says " it was all over in ten 
minutes." It did not prevent further obstinate resistance. 

Gyantse was reached on April 11, but there were no signs 
that the Tibetans meant to negotiate there. Lord Curzon 
sailed for England on April 30, and the control of affairs passed 
to Lord Ampthill. The actual conclusion of the Lhasa Treaty 
did not therefore take place under Lord Curzon's direction, 
though it was understood at the time that he was being 
consulted in London. The attitude of the Tibetans became 
unpleasantly clear on May 5, when they made a surprise 
attack on the Mission camp. The "jong" or fort, which 
had not been occupied by the British, began a bombardment 
with primitive pieces of ordnance. The Mission was at one 
period in real jeopardy, for assaults were made several times, 
and the position was almost besieged. General Macdonald 
arrived with reinforcements on June 26, and the "jong " was 
captured on July 6, but it was not until two days later 
that a further advance to Lhasa was sanctioned. The 
march was begun on July 14, the delay at Gyantse having 
lasted three months. The Mission arrived before Lhasa on 
August 3. 

The Dalai Lama had fled, and Colonel Younghusband 
had eventually to negotiate with other leading Tibetan 
officials, who did not possess the same degree of authority. 
He was in a position of great perplexity, which was not 
lessened by the fact that it took him twelve days to com- 
municate with Simla. He was further under strict injunc- 
tion to leave Lhasa at the earliest possible moment, and had 
been reproved for a somewhat premature suggestion in June 
that he should winter there. He was in possession of a draft 
Convention sent him by the Government of India, and had 
already been acquainted by telegraph with the views of 
the Secretary of State. He had not, however, received a 
despatch in which those views were amplified, and it did not 
reach him until after the Treaty was signed. 

142 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

The two points on which differences ultimately arose 
related to the amount of the indemnity, and the duration of the 
occupation of the Chumbi Valley as security for its payment. 
Mr. Brodrick had plainly said, in his telegram of July 6, 
that the indemnity should not be beyond the power of the 
Tibetans to pay, and might be spread over three years, if 
necessary ; but he had also said that Colonel Younghusband 
was to be " guided by circumstances." The occupation of 
the Chumbi Valley was, he added, to continue until the 
indemnity was paid, or until trade marts had been opened 
for three years, " whichever is the latest." All through the 
despatches there is evidence that the aims of the Secretary 
of State and the Government of India were not quite 
identical. Lord Curzon and his deputies wanted a satis- 
factory settlement. JNIr. Brodrick, whose decision in the 
matter was bound to be final, was chiefly eager to conclude 
the Mission and to evacuate Tibet ; assurances to that effect 
had been rather unnecessarily given to Russia. 

Colonel Younghusband eventually fixed the amount of 
the indemnity at a sum equivalent to half a million sterling. 
He believed Tibet could pay this amount, and it was calcu- 
lated upon a basis already suggested by the Government of 
India. The Tibetans asked that they might be allowed to 
pay at the rate of one lakh of rupees (£6666) annually. 
Fearing, as he says, that if he did not agree he might be 
compelled to leave without a Treaty at all, he consented. 
But his consent involved the prospective occupation of the 
Chumbi Valley for seventy-five years, as security for pay- 
ment ; and Lord Lansdowne had informed Russia that 
occupation was not intended. Colonel Younghusband has 
given a very frank explanation of the reasons which influenced 
him. The Chumbi Valley is the key to Tibet. It is a 
tongue of land thrust into India, on the Indian side of the 
divide. He could not see that its occupation would break 
any pledges. He knew that it was the only strategical point 
of value on the northern frontier between Burma and Kashmir, 

143 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

and in his own words, " lie seized the golden opportunity." 
The Treaty was signed in the Potala, the great monastery- 
palace of the Dalai Lamas, on September 7, and on 
September 23 the homeward march was begun. 

The Secretary of State was indignant at the disregard of 
his wishes. Mr. Brodrick, while at the India Office, was 
never very happy in drafting telegraphic despatches, and his 
telegrams concerning Tibet reveal a rapid development of 
wrath. By October 3 he was declaring that the provisions 
regarding the indemnity had been framed " in defiance of 
express instructions," and that His Majesty's Government 
could not " accept the situation created for us by our 
representative's disobedience of orders." He was severely 
criticised for his repudiation of Colonel Younghusband's 
action, though partly because his whole attitude at that 
period seemed to show a general determination to handle 
the Government of India roughly. Yet a careful ex- 
amination of all the facts leads to the conclusion that 
in this respect at least his anger was well founded. No 
doubt Colonel Younghusband was in a grave predicament 
when he came to his decision. No doubt a stronger 
Minister with broader views might have thought it better 
to accept the situation as he found it, and pass over the 
contravention of his orders. But there are few men who, in 
Mr. Brodrick's place, would have acted otherwise than he 
did. His instructions from the outset had been clear and 
consistent. It is no answer to say that the Chumbi Valley 
has not been continuously Tibetan ; the fact remains that it 
is within the borders of Tibet. It is no answer to say that 
the Tibetans were only willing to pay a lakh a year ; the 
disparity between three years and 75 years is too great to be 
overlooked. It is even no answer to say that, as is un- 
doubtedly the case. Colonel Younghusband's decision was 
most advantageous to India; orders should only be dis- 
regarded under the amplest possible justification, which 
did not here exist. No one who reads Colonel Young- 

144 



PERSIA AND TIBET 

husband's explanation will be inclined to blame him : but it 
is equally difficult in this matter, now that passions have 
cooled, to condemn Mr. Brodrick. 

The Government of India loyally defended their officer, 
though admitting that his error of judgment was serious ; 
but the indemnity was promptly reduced to £166,000. The 
difference about the Treaty in no way diminished the high 
reputation Colonel Younghusband gained for his general 
conduct of the JSlission. It was only through his quiet 
courageous persistence that Lhasa was ever reached at all, 
and the K.C.I.E. with which he was rewarded was not too 
lavish an acknowledgment of his services. 

The change of Ministry by which Mr. Morley succeeded 
Mr. Brodrick at the India Office affected still further the 
fate of the Lhasa Treaty. The indemnity was paid in three 
instalments, and the money was really found by China. 
The Chumbi Valley was incontinently evacuated in January 
1908, and almost the only visible signs which now remain of 
the British Mission are the new trade marts at Gyantse and 
Gartok, and the British Agent for commercial purposes at 
Gyantse ; but it is doubtful whether the marts have ever 
been " effectively opened." The Lhasa Treaty, which was 
afterwards accepted by China, stipulated that Tibet should 
not cede territory, admit foreign representatives, nor grant 
concessions without the consent of Great Britain ; but under 
the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 both Powers have 
now mutually agreed not to seek concessions, nor to send 
representatives to Lhasa, nor to negotiate further with Tibet 
except through the intermediary of the Chinese Government. 
Lord Curzon in the House of Lords on February 6, 1908, 
strongly, and with justice, condemned this admission of 
equality of interest between Great Britain and Russia in 
Tibet. An annexure to the document even made promises 
to Russia, which were quite superfluous, about the annexa- 
tion of the Chumbi Valley. 

China is the one Power which has reaped solid advantages 

145 K 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

from the Tibet JNlission. The Peking authorities were 
astute enough to perceive at once that the march on Lhasa 
would bring about the rehabihtation of their suzerainty, and 
they remained quiescent while British troops were in Tibet. 
They have now reaped their reward, for the Dalai Lama, 
after a brief return to his capital, is a fugitive in India, 
and Chinese suzerainty is being developed into practical 
sovereignty. Having agreed to recognise the validity of 
Chinese claims, we have no alternative but to leave the 
unfortunate Tibetans to their not too tender mercies. We 
have not extended our trade as we had hoped, and we have 
raised up for ourselves a new and disturbing situation on the 
north-eastern frontier of India. 

For these results Lord Curzon cannot be held responsible, 
save only in a secondary degree. He kept Russia out of 
Tibet, he exacted reparation for affronts, and he furnished 
the opportunity of developing trade and friendly relations 
with the Tibetans. If that opportunity has been to a great 
extent thrown away by those who came after him, the 
blame does not lie at his door. Despite the fighting, the 
general restraint of the soldiery made a deep impression 
upon the people of Tibet, and in their new plight they 
turned at once to India for help, though necessarily without 
avail. 



146 



IV 
THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

It was a misfortune of Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty that his 
countrymen at home never became acquainted with some of 
the more soHd and enduring aspects of his internal adminis- 
tration of India. They heard of his stirring speeches and 
indefatigable journeys, of the trappings of the Delhi pageant, 
of the famine he fought successfully and the plague he 
fought in vain. The dust of bitter controversies was borne 
on the ocean winds, and the obscuring clouds of the final 
conflict swept homeward in their turn. England, absorbed 
for once in an Indian episode in which two great figures 
were at issue, came at last to associate Lord Curzon's 
Administration chiefly with the strife in which it closed. 
The object of this book is to restore perspective, to make it 
clear to those who care to listen that there was another side 
to Lord Curzon's rule, a far more important and permanent 
side which will be remembered, and will bring benefit to 
millions, when incidental differences are only recalled by 
those who love to disinter the curiosities of history. 

The work that tells most in India, that confers most 
benefit upon the population, has few heroic qualities, save 
such as are found in the quiet devotion of those who perform 
it. It demands laborious effort, and weariless study of 
repellent details, and when it is done it often remains almost 
invisible to the world, even the world of India. The states- 
man who passes a measure for increasing popular repre- 
sentation in India is sure of immediate recognition. He has 

147 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

achieved something visible and concrete, which can be seen 
and understood. But has he really touched and ameliorated 
the daily life of the people ? Have his Councils and his 
complicated elections lightened the burden of the countless 
tillers of the soil ? The cities foster the new ideals he has 
rightly sought to satisfy, but the cities of India are few. In 
all that teeming Empire there are only twenty-seven cities 
with a population exceeding 100,000, and only five whose 
inhabitants exceed a quarter of a million. 

The census of 1901 showed a population of 196,000,000 
directly dependent upon agriculture and cattle-rearing ; but 
it has been estimated that " nine-tenths of the rural popula- 
tion of India live directly or indirectly by agriculture." The 
interests of the bulk of these people centre almost solely 
upon the land. They have few thoughts and aspirations 
beyond the plough and the byre. Land problems are the 
real heart of the politics of India. The truest test of a 
Viceroyalty is the degree to which the holder of the office 
has helped the people on the land. They are more than 
the backbone of the country. They are almost the whole 
of India. 

Lord Curzon in his last speech in India declared that the 
Indian peasant " should be the first and final object of every 
Viceroy's regard." Nominally he is so always. " The ryot 
at the plough " is a lay figure which has done duty in 
innumerable speeches. Very few Viceroys in modern times 
have, however, taken an intimate and practical and informed 
interest in his well-being. The ryot seems a simple factor, 
easy to comprehend, until he is approached at close quarters, 
when it is discovered that he is the symbol of problems of 
profound complexity and magnitude. Probably no man 
living has ever claimed to possess complete familiarity with 
Indian land questions. The utmost usually attempted is to 
learn something of the protean issues presented in a single 
province. Viceroys cannot be condemned when they have 
shrunk from contemplating the land question as a whole, 

148 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

and have contented themselves with passing one or two 
measures intended to deal with limited provincial issues. 

That Lord Curzon went to India determined to grapple 
with one aspect of the land question he has himself disclosed. 
The relief of agricultural indebtedness was in the category 
of twelve prospective reforms to which he alluded in his first 
Budget Speech. The realisation that it was necessary to go 
deeper did not fully dawn upon him until, in the great 
famine of 1899-1900 and in the inquiry which followed it, 
he came into detailed contact with the system of land 
administration in British India. He saw enough then to 
convince him of the folly of the suggestion that famines 
were caused by the incidence of land revenue collection 
rather than by drought ; but he also gained clues which 
helped him to develop those large constructive changes 
which have wrought so much benefit among myriads of 
cultivators. 

He perceived that the land revenue policy of the Govern- 
ment of India and of the Provincial Administrations lacked 
coherent statement, and he drafted a Resolution which set 
forth plainly and emphatically the principles by which it 
was guided. That was perhaps the most valuable, though 
in its direct effect the least tangible of his labours to improve 
the land administration. He introduced new principles of 
suspension and remission of land revenue collection in times 
of scarcity, which largely transformed the spirit in which 
the dues of the Government were collected. That was un- 
questionably the reform which was most widely appreciated, 
for it relieved the peasants from the terror of inexorable 
demands when their crops had failed. He started a great 
system of co-operative credit societies, now growing rapidly 
in extent and usefulness, which enabled the cultivator to 
obtain cheap capital, and broke the monopoly of exorbitant 
money-lenders. He saved the landholders of the Punjab 
from expropriation, encouraged the development of better 
relations between landlords and tenants in other provinces, 

149 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

and extended the system of recording possessory rights in . 
land, on which the smoothness of land administration so 
much depends. Finally, he accelerated the process of apply- 
ing scientific principles to Indian agriculture, and by the 
creation of an Imperial Agricultural Department under 
an Inspector- General of Agriculture sought to co-ordinate 
effort for the improvement of the oldest and greatest of 
Indian industries. The recital of these activities does not 
exhaust the long story of his work for the betterment of the 
peasantry, as I shall have occasion to show, nor does it give 
any real impression of the ceaseless energy of an Administra- 
tion which was constantly busy, in numberless minor ways, 
in improving the condition of the ryot. Where the cata- 
logue is so extensive it is only possible to select. 

It was my hope, in this chapter, to include a brief 
account of the land revenue system of British India, in a 
form which might be acceptable to readers who have no 
special interest in a somewhat abstruse topic. The ambition 
must remain unrealised, at any rate for the present, and 
perhaps for ever. The subject is so huge and varied that it 
requires a far larger canvas than is here available. It is full 
of exceptions and differences, and no statement can be made 
concerning it which does not need many qualifications. 
Possibly some day an Anglo-Indian Millet of the pen will 
arise, who will unfold the real romance of land revenue 
administration. Only then will a phase of British rule in 
India which lies buried beneath a mountain of returns and 
settlement reports take colour and life. If a more com- 
petent hand accomplishes the task, the true inwardness of 
Indian conditions will be revealed. 

He will tell of the chaos into which the advancing 
British found the land revenue system plunged as they 
fought their way outwards over India ; how the villages of 
the Deccan were left desolate by the merciless exactions of 
the Mahrattas ; how Madras was ruthlessly stripped by the 
tax-gatherers ; how Bengal was in the grip of the revenue- 

150 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

farmers, and how in the Punjab the cultivator was the con- 
stant victim of spohation, even though he fortified his 
village and followed the plough sword in hand. I have 
often wished that some historian would reconstruct for us a 
vivid picture of the economic condition of India a hundred 
and fifty years ago. It would be the most striking vindication 
of the British conquest ever penned, and would form a salu- 
tary admonition to those who inflame discontent. 

Then the narrator will tell of the early mistakes of the 
British, of Pringle's disastrous over-assessment of the im- 
poverished Deccan, and of the injudicious attempts made 
elsewhere to collect revenue which the harassed people were 
quite unable to pay. The late Sir Denzil Ibbetson, in his 
classic settlement report of the Karnal District, declares 
that in that tract the first British assessments were " in- 
credibly oppressive," that it would have taken the whole 
gross produce of the land and cattle to satisfy the demand, 
and that Government guards were sent to watch the grow- 
ing crops, and horse and foot quartered in the villages to 
compel payment. The earliest reforms were almost equally 
unfortunate. Lord Cornwallis thought to turn the revenue- 
farmers of Bengal into country squires by confirming them 
in possession and fixing the Government demand in per- 
petuity. His Permanent Settlement still endures, but the 
great growth in the value of land brings no direct benefit 
to the State, many of the descendants of the original holders 
have become absentee landlords, the tenants were for a long 
period rack-rented, the estates are often not developed, 
and there has been a prolonged subdivision of rights among 
middlemen. 

The story will go on to describe how — except in the case 
of Bengal, which had to wait for the Bengal Tenancy Act 
of 1885 — initial errors were gradually corrected, until at 
last the cultivators found themselves subject only to demands 
which they were normally well able to meet, and relieved 
for ever from the process of unmitigated extortion which 

151 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

filled the lives of their ancestors with misery and despair. 
It will rescue from unmerited oblivion the names of English- 
men who did greater work than the victors in war, because 
they built up that complex system of administration which 
brings the British Government in constant touch with every 
peasant in the land. These are the men, far more than the 
generals and the judges and the politicians, who slowly 
created in India that respect for British justice and fairness 
and probity which has not yet faded in the rural districts. 
The officers who settled the relations between the tillers of 
the soil and the Government, and their successors, who 
to-day handle those relations upon the principles thus laid 
down, are the chief builders and upholders of the fabric of 
British rule. Their work touches the daily lives of the 
people, and affects their daily happiness and prosperity. 
Some among them have been too long forgotten. 

It will be a narrative which will tell of that amazing and 
never-ending work of survey, by which the whole Empire 
of India was laboriously examined and mapped until every 
field was plotted, every claim adjusted, and every right 
recorded, save only in those areas where the system in vogue 
required different treatment. It will recall (the days, now 
unhappily passing away, when the ambition of every young 
civilian was to be placed in charge of the settlement of a 
district, to live therein until he knew every nook and corner 
of it, to meet in turn the people of every village and see 
their crops and talk to them beneath the village tree, to 
settle their dues for a term of years, and finally to write a 
report which gave a full and accurate description of their 
condition and mode of life. The older settlement literature, 
written in times of greater leisure than are found to-day, is 
among the most valuable of Indian records. The newer 
style is brief and formal and dull, typical of the changed 
conditions which do not permit intimate intercourse with 
the people. You learn the quality of their land, and how 
much they have to pay, but you get no glimpses of the 

152 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

peasantry themselves, such as make even the first settlement 
report of the Peshawar District a document to linger over. 

Even as I w^rite, I am conscious of the diversity of India, 
which Lord I^ansdowne called " a land of many countries." 
I shall perhaps be told that 1 am describing more particularly 
the process of assessing a district under ryotwari tenure, in 
which the cultivators have proprietary rights, and make their 
payments direct to the State ; and that where there is 
zemindai^i tenure, and the land revenue is collected from 
landlords who deal with their tenants themselves, the 
method which prevails is somewhat different. The 
criticism, if it is made, will indicate the difficulty of 
generalising about the land in India. Yet if the picture I 
have suggested is ever drawn, it will show that behind the 
variety of system, and the far more bewildering variety of 
technical terms, the broad essential characteristics of the 
land and its administration are everywhere in India very 
much the same ; that the predominant feature of the country 
is neither temples nor palaces nor elephants, but that 
collection of hedgeless sun-scorched fields and humble 
dwellings which constitutes an Indian village ; that India 
is a world of small holdings, and the distinction of ryotwari 
and zemi?idari a thing of books and pedants ; and that he who 
would understand India aright must turn not to the speeches 
of politicians in Council, but study rather the people on 
the land and the work of those who have to do ^vith them. 

Lord Curzon earned the right to an honourable place 
among those who have left their mark upon the land revenue 
administration of India. His most conspicuous service was 
that he gave it powerful vindication at a time when it stood 
sorely in need of defence, and when the criticism to which it 
was subjected seemed likely to be accepted in default of an 
adequate answer. Successive famines, with intervening 
periods of widespread scarcity, had placed millions of culti- 
vators in a grave plight. A school of Indian critics arose 
which declared, not for the first time, that the famines were 

153 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

due, not so much to the failure of the rains, but rather to the 
heaviness and rigidity of the Government assessments on the 
cultivators. To the uninitiated it may appear that the 
contention was transparently untenable, and that between 
failure of rain and failure of crops there could be no inter- 
vening circumstance. The case was, however, plausibly 
presented. It was argued that the Government took so 
much from the peasant or his representatives that he was 
left " resourceless and incapable " in periods of drought. 
Specific attacks were made upon the system in vogue in 
different provinces, and the Government were asked to 
institute changes which would have cut at the roots of their 
land administration. The onslaught was persistent, and had 
official precedent been observed, it would for the most part 
have been treated with silent disdain, in which case the 
consequences might have been extremely mischievous. 

The assailants were reinforced by a number of retired 
civilians in England, who carried some amount of weight at 
home. Their protagonist was, however, the late Mr. Romesh 
Chunder Dutt, an eminent Bengali who had risen to high place 
in the Civil Service. I knew Mr. Dutt, and believe him to 
have been a man of great sincerity of conviction. In after years 
he was given a prominent position in the State of Baroda, 
where he seemed to have found that it is not always easy to 
reconcile political theory with administrative practice. His 
criticism was delivered in a series of open letters to Lord 
Curzon, and they attracted widespread attention. Mr. Dutt 
invariably wrote with notable moderation, but as is the case 
with many Indian controversialists, his handling of facts and 
his methods of statement often failed to stand close scrutiny. 
His letter on the Bombay revenue system, in particular, was 
quietly but convincingly demolished by Sir John JNIuir- 
Mackenzie, though the Bombay case was at that time the 
most vulnerable of all in certain respects. Throughout his 
series of papers, it was noticeable that Mr. Dutt was mainly 
championing the cause of the well-to-do. He said a great deal 

154 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

about Government exactions from zemindars, or landlords, 
but not one condemnatory word against the notorious 
excessive exactions of many zemindars from their tenants. 
The initial flaw in his whole case concerning famine was 
that a very large proportion of the people who had received 
famine relief were landless labourers and tribesmen from the 
jungle, who paid no land revenue. A curious feature of all 
Indian political agitation is that the very poor have no 
spokesmen or protectors save the Government, and (counting 
their dependents) there are over thirty million field labourers 
and sixteen million general labourers in India. 

It is scarcely necessary to say that the diatribes of 
IMr. Dutt and his followers were not wholly without founda- 
tion. Had there been no faults to rectify. Lord Curzon's 
land revenue policy would have required scant discussion 
here. In his famine tour in the Bombay Presidency, the 
Viceroy had noticed a disposition in some districts to persist 
in the revenue demand without sufficient regard to the 
diminished resources of the cultivators. There were other 
evils less manifest but not less serious. Settlement officers 
in some provinces, in their task of reassessing particular 
areas, had come to think, not ahvays without reason, that to 
preserve the good opinion of their superiors it was advisable 
to raise assessments whether local conditions warranted them 
or not. It is now admitted, for instance, that the resettle- 
ment of various districts in Gujerat in the late nineties was 
unduly high, even although the province is a rich one. The 
trouble caused by an excessive demand was accentuated 
when Indian subordinates resorted to irregular methods of 
collection, as was disclosed at an official inquiry in 1901 in 
the Surat District. Proof was then given that minor officials 
had beaten ryots, improperly seized ornaments, sealed up 
houses, and attached money given for charitable relief, in 
their undue zeal to collect Government dues. JMore recently, 
and long after Mr. Dutt's agitation was over, there was the 
case of the new settlement of the Rawal Pindi District, in 

155 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

which the Punjab Government increased the assessment of 
their own settlement officer. Their action was a contribu- 
tory cause of the ill-feehng which produced a riot at Rawal 
Pindi in 1907. Mr. Dutt may have been on unsound ground 
when he attributed famine to high assessments, but he was 
not wholly wrong in his criticism. On the whole, the agita- 
tion in which he participated had beneficial results. It was 
time that a softer atmosphere was imparted into methods of 
land revenue administration, and while defending the broad 
principles of Government policy. Lord Curzon did not hesi- 
tate to administer the necessary corrective. 

The Resolution embodying the land revenue policy of 
the Government of India, which is now an historic docu- 
ment, was issued on January 16, 1902. It soon became 
known that, contrary to the usual practice, the Resolution 
had been drafted by the Viceroy himself, for on every page 
it bore the impress of his clear thought and trenchant argu- 
ment. Hitherto land revenue policy had been traceable 
only in innumerable codes and reports and acts. There was 
no definite and concise official statement of the aims which 
the Government had in view. But the Resolution at once 
became a guide for revenue officers, while at the same time 
it largely silenced the agitation which had arisen. Ever since 
its appearance, there has been remarkably little recurrence of 
the cry of over-assessment ; and when the United Provinces 
were stricken with grave scarcity in 1907-08, no one had 
the hardihood to declare that famine conditions had been 
produced by the land revenue demand. 

The famine theory was, indeed, easy to disprove. It must 
be obvious that a widespread failure of rain, in a country 
chiefly dependent upon its crops, is bound to produce 
abnormal suffisring which no financial relief can prevent. 
Lord Curzon pointed out that in the afflicted Central Pro- 
vinces alone, successive droughts during a period of seven 
years had imposed upon the agricultural classes losses esti- 
mated at over £26,000,000, a sum equivalent to the land 

156 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

revenue for fifty years ; while the State had spent in these 
provinces in the rehef of distress a sum equal to seven years' 
land revenue. It was clear, he urged, that even the total 
abolition of land revenue assessment would not " enable any 
community to hold up its head against a calamity so vast 
and so appalling." The increasing intensity of the famines 
in the later decades of the nineteenth century, as compared 
with those early in the century, supported his contention. 
While assessments had progressively diminished, famines 
had chanced to be more serious, though they ought to have 
been lighter if the assertions of Mr. Dutt and his associates 
were true. A cycle of very dry years implies disaster which 
no Government can avert, though it can mitigate the con- 
sequences. Again, the Famine Commission had shown that 
there was no special intensity of famine in districts which 
were admitted to be highly assessed, whereas districts where 
the demand was comparatively small had in some instances 
suffered severely. Further, there was not the slightest 
reason to suppose that if the Government abated its dues, 
the people would husband the resources thus left to them. 
Their habitual improvidence led to a contrary conclusion ; 
and it must be added here that though this particular argu- 
ment is not in itself a justification, those who know the 
Indian villager will recognise its weight. There was nothing 
left of the famine theory when the Resolution had finished 
with it. 

With similar cogency, the Resolution disposed of the 
suggestion that the Permanent Settlement had been any 
protection against famine in Bengal, and that its extension 
would produce such results elsewhere. It examined the 
standard upon which assessments were based, confuted the 
general allegation of excessive demand, defined with technical 
detail the limits which were observed, and demonstrated 
that progressive moderation was the keynote of the policy 
of the Government. It very properly defended the principle 
of subjecting the land tax to a moderate surcharge for 

157 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

certain local purposes, including the construction and main- 
tenance of roads. Such charges are assessed on rental value 
in many countries. 

The practical reforms foreshadowed in the Resolution 
included the graduated imposition of large enhancements of 
land revenue. In some provinces, when a new settlement 
was made, the cultivator became liable for the whole increase 
at once, and his income was therefore violently affected. 
Lord Curzon thought that the enhancement should be made 
by prescribed degrees. A reform of far more general im- 
portance, which became the cardinal feature of Lord Curzon's 
land policy, was indicated in his proposal that the revenue 
demand should be varied to meet the character of the 
season. The theory of land revenue assessment is that it is 
based on an average season. The likelihood of good and 
bad seasons is taken into account, and a rate is fixed which 
is supposed to be not oppressively high in a bad season, 
while leaving an exceptional margin in good years. The 
ryot is expected in a fat year to prepare himself for reverses 
in a lean one. In practice he rarely does so, and Lord 
Curzon considered that there should be a greater elasticity 
of demand, for which the rules did not then provide. This 
was the origin of his subsequent Suspensions and Remissions 
Resolution. Similar proposals had been frequently made, 
but had always been met by the objection that there were 
many difficulties. A marked characteristic of Lord Curzon's 
Administration was not so much that he advanced new 
ideas, but rather that he took up reforms which had been 
talked about for years, and carried them through. Neither 
the North-West Frontier Province nor the partition of 
Bengal were novel proposals. The difference was that while 
many had thought of these schemes, he accomplished them. 
He is a man who does things. 

The third reform upon which Lord Curzon insisted was 
the expediency of meeting local deterioration with prompt 
relief. Famine, he pointed out, was not the only disaster 

158 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

which might overtake the cultivator. A village might be 
decimated by malarial fever, or subjected to other disability. 
There had been cases in which a reduction of revenue had 
not been granted till the trouble of the people had been 
" aggravated by their efforts to provide the full fixed 
demand." He considered that relief should be given in 
such cases, even though the strict principles of settlement 
were thereby violated. In effect, he held that the provincial 
Governments should think less of their own inflexible system, 
and more of the needs of communities in special misfortune. 
There were other modifications of the spirit of land revenue 
administration. He encouraged the further development of 
the methods by which resettlement has been simplified, and 
promised to consider whether the principle of exemption or 
allowance for improvements could be extended. The Land 
Revenue Resolution was a warning against harshness in 
taxation. The views which inspired it are not unworthy of 
practice even in England. Its beneficent intentions were 
generally recognised, and nowhere did it receive warmer 
praise than in the native Press. 

It was not until March 1905, after his return from 
England, that Lord Curzon was able to carry into practice 
his scheme for greater elasticity of revenue demand in times 
of famine and scarcity. The intervening period was spent 
in prolonged consultation with the Provincial Governments, 
who were not all eager for the abandonment of methods 
which ensured simplicity of collection without much regard 
for the condition of the cultivator. There was plainly need 
for reform. The Famine Commission had pointed out, for 
instance, that during the terrible visitation in Gujerat in 
1900 there was no general declaration of suspension, and 
the amount "suspended" was simply the balance out- 
standing at the end of the year. " The action of the 
Bombay Government," said Sir Antony Macdonnell and 
his colleagues, " was directly in conflict with the principles 
which we consider to be vital in times of famine." The 

159 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Suspensions and Remissions Resolution of 1905 put an end 
to the possibility of any recurrence of such rigid treatment of 
the impoverished. It laid down specific rules for the guidance 
of the provincial authorities, which were in every respect 
framed in a compassionate spirit. Suspensions were not 
ordinarily to be granted unless more than half the crop had 
failed, but when they were made the people were to be told 
at once before collection began. Suspended revenue was to 
be remitted when it became apparent that it would not be 
collected. The district officer was, where possible, to be 
given the power to suspend revenue. This was a practical 
piece of decentralisation ; there were to be no delays 
in granting the boon, thus easing the anxiety of the 
peasantry. Circuitous references to headquarters were 
deprecated. In areas where landlords paid the land revenue, 
care was taken that their tenants should receive due benefit 
from the remission of demand. 

The Suspensions and Remissions Resolution embodied the 
most practical piece of work which Lord Curzon accomplished 
in his land policy. Its full effects will only be visible if the 
country again endures a great famine, but meanwhile it has 
brought relief to countless humble people in those minor 
scarcities which are so frequently encountered in India. In 
his last Budget Speech the Viceroy described the measure 
as " an act of compassion on the part of the State, but it is 
compassion in a form little distinguishable from justice." 
A further Resolution, only promulgated after his departure, 
prescribed the necessary instructions for the reduction of 
assessment in cases of local deterioration, and furnished 
liberal rules for guidance in the exemption of improvements 
from assessment. Its final revision was one of Lord 
Curzon's last duties in India. 

The brief details of the land revenue measures which I 
have given may seem commonplace, though not when it is 
remembered that these dull regulations lighten adversity in 
over half a million villages. 

160 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

It is not enough, however, to protect the Indian peasant 
against the indiscriminating importunity of the tax-collector. 
When that is done, we are still far from placing him in a 
position of reasonable security. He has still to be protected 
against himself. In the old days in India, the small land- 
holder may have been fleeced, but except through the 
uncertainties of conquest or internal war, he was able to 
reckon on a fair security of tenure. His land Avas not 
wanted, but only the fruits of his toil. He was stripped of 
all save what he required for bare subsistence, but he 
managed to keep his holding. He borrowed money, but 
in a lawless era usurers were restrained from demanding 
exorbitant interest through fear of summary retaliation. 

The coming of the British gradually changed the position. 
Moderate assessments left a surplus to the landholder, and 
land became a saleable asset. The proprietary rights proved 
valuable property. Sir Bampfylde Fuller says that the 
British Government have raised the selling value of land- 
lords' estates from next to nothing to £300,000,000 sterling. 
The organisation of the British system of justice smoothed 
the way for the peasant's creditor. Under the old dispensa- 
tion the usurer knew that extreme greed might mean death 
or mutilation. Under the new conditions, he could take his 
mortgage to court, and evict the debtor at his leisure. He 
had discovered that land was a safe and profitable invest- 
ment, and craved to possess it. The improvidence of the 
cultivators made them an easy prey. A wholesale process 
of expropriation set in. All over India the cultivating 
classes were losing their land. The machinery of the 
British courts worked with blind exactitude, and turned 
swarms of agriculturists into serfs or landless men. 

Nowhere was the expropriation of the peasantry more 
marked or more rapid than in the Punjab. The wave of 
prosperity which swept through the Punjab after the 
Mutiny caused their lands to be coveted. The sturdy men 
of the North, whom Lord Curzon called " the flower of the 

161 L 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

population, and the backbone of the native army," saw their 
holdings passing from them with the tacit consent of the 
Government. That their eviction was usually the result of 
their own recklessness and ignorance did not mitigate the 
blow. The prospective ruin of the cultivating classes of the 
Punjab was described so long ago as 1886 by Mr. S. S. 
Thorburn, an able civilian, in a book entitled " Musulmans 
and Moneylenders." His protest had no very definite result 
for some years, though he was allowed to make inquiries 
and to collect evidence. To Lord Elgin, who took a sincere 
interest in agricultural questions, belongs the credit of first 
dealing with the evil in a practical way. He formulated 
proposals to restrict the right of land transfer, which were 
still in a tentative form when Lord Curzon arrived. 

Nine months after Lord Curzon assumed office a Bill was 
tabled at his instance dealing with land alienation in the 
Punjab. It underwent revision during the following year, 
and became law in October 1900. Its broad effect is that 
moneylenders, shopkeepers, and professional men cannot 
buy land from hereditary cultivators, or hold such land on 
mortgage for more than twenty years, without the consent of 
the State. Hereditary cultivators can, however, dispose of 
their land to tribesmen of their own class without restric- 
tion. There is an intermediate class of " agriculturists," not 
of the hereditary type, which by virtue of long connection 
with landed interests has received certain privileges under 
the Act. An important provision is that the land of an 
hereditary cultivator cannot now be sold in execution of a 
decree. Lord Curzon summed up the result of the measure 
when he said that Shylock could no longer take his pound 
of flesh in land ; and if he was only its foster-parent, the fact 
remains that he had to wage a vigorous fight in its behalf, 
and that the chief obstacle he encountered was the luke- 
warmness of the Punjab Government. At that period the 
Punjab authorities had lost something of the spirit of their 
predecessors, and had become rather narrow and reactionary, 

162 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

The Punjab Land Alienation Act has, I think, more 
than justified the hopes of its promoters. Both sales of land 
and mortgages have been greatly reduced, and the extent 
of land annually redeemed from mortgage has risen to a 
remarkable degree. The Financial Commissioner of the 
Punjab reported in 1910 that for some years the effect of the 
Act had been to prevent further loss, and that there was 
" no manner of doubt that the old land-owning tribes are 
now year by year recovering part of what had passed out of 
their hands before 1901." Even more conspicuous has been 
the decline in litigation concerning land, which the Act was 
designed to diminish. 1 was told in Rawal Pindi in 1909 
that the local Bar, which had long flourished merrily on 
lawsuits about land, was nearly ruined, and I saw no tears 
shed for its fate. Necessarily the original Act has flaws, 
which are gradually being remedied in practice. Evasions 
are not unknown, and prohibited persons are suspected of 
buying land in the name of servants who happen to be 
hereditary cultivators. The Pionee?^ in 1907 described the 
measure as " an heroic protest against the survival of the 
fittest," and was inclined to doubt whether it would prosper 
or endure. I can only say that when I last visited the 
Punjab, if the indignation of the lawyers and merchants who 
were no longer able to reduce cultivators to the level of 
rack-rented tenants was any criterion, the Act has met with 
conspicuous success. Lord Curzon sufficiently answered 
the application of the theory of evolution to practical 
politics when he asked in the debate on this very Act what 
would have become of the boasted progress of the nine- 
teenth century if social and agrarian evils had not been 
rectified by legislation. The remedy adopted may be 
artificial, and the restriction upon land investments in the 
Punjab has unquestionably produced much ill-feeling in 
the legal and mercantile communities ; but it has saved the 
peasantry of the countryside from social extermination. 

The subsequent appUcation of the Act to the district of 

163 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Bundelkhand, in the adjacent United Provinces, has not yet 
been attended with quite the same measure of success ; but 
there can be little doubt that it serves as a model which will 
in course of time be applied, in varying forms, in other parts 
of India. A beginning has been already made in the Bombay 
Presidency, where, in spite of Agriculturists' Relief Acts, 
the expropriation of the cultivator has been also proceeding 
apace. The Famine Commission reported in 1901 : " We 
think it probable that at least one-fourth of the cultivators 
in the Bombay Presidency have lost possession of their 
lands ; that less than a fifth are free from debt ; and that 
the remainder are indebted to a greater or less extent." 
Lord Curzon was well aware of the defects existing in the 
Bombay Presidency. Lord Northcote was in ample 
sympathy with his representations, but the faults of the 
Bombay revenue system were too ingrained to be rapidly 
eradicated. Though attempts were made, it was some 
years before success was attained. 

Lord Curzon, then, had devised methods for quickly 
relieving the ryot from oppressive taxation in times of 
scarcity, and had set in motion measures designed to pre- 
vent him from ruining himself and losing home and land 
through the exactions of usurers. It remained to imbue 
him with those principles of self-help of which he stood so 
sadly in need. At times he required access to capital in 
order to buy seed or implements, to effect improvements 
in his land, and to tide over bad seasons. It was good to 
have dealt a blow at the money-lender, but plainly he was 
still an almost indispensable adjunct of the village organisa- 
tion. The Government of India never intended to destroy 
the money-lender, of whose useful functions they were well 
aware. They only wished to stop the new movement which, 
in consequence of the rise in the value of agricultural land, 
seemed likely to bring about the ruin of rural India by 
severing the cultivators from their holdings. It was desirable, 
however, to supplement the money-lender, wherever pos- 

164 






THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

sible, by furnishing the ryot with tin easier and cheaper 
means of obtaining capital in emergencies. Something had 
been already done in this direction. The Deccan Agricul- 
turists' Relief Act of 1879, though passed for a special pur- 
pose, was really the parent of a number of measures intended 
to give aid to cultivators by advancing money on easy terms. 
The value of these Acts was considerable, particularly 
in the Bombay Presidency, where the practice of making 
advances had attained extensive dimensions. But they had 
the defects inseparable from purely State aid, and rather 
than face the stringent regulations with their delays and 
the inevitable vails, the peasants still often preferred to 
borrow from the village bania. The time had come when 
the rural classes had to be shown how to work out their own 
financial salvation. 

Sir William Wedderburn had tried twenty years before, 
when he was attached to the Bombay Government, to start 
an agricultural bank at Poona. He was stopped, oddly 
enough, by Lord Kimberley, then Secretary of State, who 
disapproved of the degree of State aid implied in the 
scheme. Sir Raymond West published a scheme about the 
same time, with no better success. In 1892 Sir Frederick 
Nicholson was entrusted by the JNIadras Government with 
the task of drawing up a scheme of land and agricultural 
banks. His report was a masterpiece of laborious re- 
search, admirable in conception and execution, and in- 
cluding a careful study of the co-operative institutions 
existing in Europe. It was duly published, and much dis- 
cussed, but appeared likely to grow dusty on secretariat 
bookshelves. In 1900 Mr. H. Dupernex, a civil servant 
who had visited France and Italy to examine the co-opera- 
tive popular banks in those countries, published an excellent 
little book entitled " People's Banks for Northern India." 
The views of both these officers came under the notice of 
Lord Curzon, who was at that time casting about for further 
expedients for relieving the peasantry from their load of 

165 



1 

J 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

perpetual indebtedness. He saw in their proposals the solu- 
tion he sought. They were called to Calcutta, and in due 
course a scheme of co-operative credit societies was started 
which seems destined to revolutionise rural finance in India. 
To me the astonishing success of the co-operative credit 
movement is the most hopeful sign now visible in India. 
We wanted to do something for the man on the land, and 
we have done it. We are teaching him one of the greatest 
of all lessons — how to help himself. 

The care with which Lord Curzon made his preparations 
for passing the Co-operative Credit Societies Act offers a 
signal example to those statesmen in England who try to 
force gigantic schemes of social legislation through the 
House of Commons in a few weeks. He had the initial 
advantage of the monumental investigations of Sir Frederick 
Nicholson, the quiet Madras civilian who was so zealous for 
the success of the movement that after his retirement he 
went back to India to encourage villagers in the south to 
start societies. The Viceroy spent several months in con- 
sulting the provincial Governments, after which a com- 
mittee assembled at Simla under the presidency of the late 
Sir Edward Law, to thrash the matter out. Further con- 
sultations with the provinces followed, and it was not until 
more than two years had been devoted to examining the 
question in all its bearings that the Bill was drafted. It was 
introduced into the Legislative Council in October 1903, and 
became law in March 1904. It reached the Council, not 
as a sketch to be hacked about at will, but rather as an 
elaborate scheme deliberately thought out. 

There were prophets of woe, who are never lacking in 
India. Some of the Indian members were frigid, and 
declared that their countrymen did not possess the necessary 
spirit of co-operation. Even Sir Denzil Ibbetson, who was 
in charge of the Bill, was a little dubious, and observed that 
he felt by no means certain of success. He was firmly con- 
vinced, however, that the Government should make the 

166 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

experiment. After the Act was passed progress was very 
slow at first. Experienced and sympathetic officers were 
converted into missionaries, and perambulated the villages 
explaining in simple terms the meaning of the new project. 
One or two societies were experimentally started in each 
province, in order to show how they should be organised. 
Then success came with a rush, and the suggestion that 
Indians were devoid of the co-operative spirit was trium- 
phantly disproved. In 1911, at the end of seven years' 
working, there were 3456 societies with a membership of 
226,958 persons, and a working capital of £686,000. Out 
of that sum, the State had been called upon to provide only 
£46,000. The rest had been found by the people them- 
selves. Germany, the land to which we are all exhorted 
to turn for lessons in statecraft, can show no such example 
of rapid growth. The first twenty years' working of the 
Prussian Co-operative Law only produced 1729 co-operative 
credit societies. 

It is not suggested that the co-operative credit move- 
ment in India has solved the problem of agricultural 
indebtedness, for at present it is still in its infancy ; but 
there is every reason to believe that in course of time it will 
go far towards placing the ryot on a secure foundation. Its 
rate of growth is unusual in a country where changes are 
extremely gradual, and where every innovation is regarded 
with suspicion. The annual co-operative credit conferences 
now held irk most provinces are invariably infused by a spirit 
of courageous optimism. Sir George Clarke, the Governor 
of Bombay, speaking at one such conference at Poona in 
1910, said that in the extension of the co-operative move- 
ment he saw " the only practical means of extracting the 
people, gradually, but certainly, from the morass into which 
they had sunk." Mr. Justice Sankaran Nair, at a village 
conference in the Chinglepet District in February 1911, 
announced that rural societies had doubled in number in the 
Madras Presidency during the preceding year. Mr. Carlyle, 

167 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

introducing ;i new Co-operative Credit Societies Bill into the 
Imperial Legislative Council in the same month, said that 
the movement had made such an extraordinarily rapid 
advance that a new Act was required. It had become clear 
that provision must be made, not merely to borrow, but also 
to " purchase and produce." Co-operative societies framed 
to include such purposes were now required ; and it was 
essential to focilitate the union of societies in larger bodies 
so as to secure a better measure of non-official inspection 
and control, and to assist the raising of funds. Small 
though the figures I have quoted may sound, they repre- 
sent a movement which, rightly guided, will probably 
transform the social condition of the rural population of 
India in the next three decades. The spirit of self-help and 
progress which it betokens should be steadily remembered 
when the news from India sometimes lapses into gloom. 

A feature of the original Act was the flexibility it 
permitted in the formation of societies. Sir Frederick 
Nicholson recommended societies of the RaifFeisen type, 
but there are also organisations on the basis propounded 
by Schulze-Delitzsch, while Burma appears to prefer 
societies based upon the model which Luzzatti has made 
popular in Italy. Sir Theodore Morison says that *' every 
province appears to be developing a special type of society 
adapted to its special social structure." The whole movement 
is permissive, and the initiative must come, under guidance, 
from the people themselves. Lord Curzon said in his speech 
on the passing of the Bill into law that its object was "to foster 
a spirit of responsibility and self-reliance," and that Govern- 
ment aid would only be forthcoming when necessary. The 
societies are of two kinds, urban and rural. Urban societies are 
particularly required to assist such industries as weaving and 
leather-working. The urban societies are usually on a share 
basis, with limited liability, while in the rural societies 
unlimited liability is the rule. The new tendency is to 
abandon the urban and rural classification, and to make 

168 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

liability the basis, societies being classified as limited and 
unlimited. I have seen it sardonically stated somewhere 
that the unlimited basis is best for the ryot, because by 
tradition unlimited financial liability has no terrors for him. 
The real reason why it is best is that it makes the peasants 
cautious about admission to membership of their societies, 
and compels them to see that their money is properly spent 
when loaned. Mr. Justice Nair has stated that membership 
of a society is coming to be looked upon as a hall-mark of 
respectability, and that the societies actually exercise " a 
very wholesome influence in favour of temperance and even 
total abstinence from drink." In course of time, as the 
movement grows, the Government guidance now exercised 
will be gradually lessened. The scheme was not planned, 
and is not conducted, in a spirit of uncompromising hostility 
to the village money-lender. He can participate if he likes, 
but he has to be content with a modest rate of interest. 

I have only touched the fringe of a subject of deep in- 
terest to all who care for the welfare of India. The establish- 
ment of the co-operative credit system was one of those 
pieces of constructive work which only bore visible fruit 
after Lord Curzon had left the country. Though he had 
the aid of many zealous and able officers, it was mainly 
through his energy and enthusiasm that it was brought into 
being. He furnished the driving power which gave it life 
and motion, and on the day that the Act became law he 
made a stirring appeal to the Indian communities to use it 
for the benefit of the most deserving and helpless class of 
their countrymen. " Government has played its part. I 
invite them to play theirs," were his closing words, and the 
response which his appeal received in later days has shown 
that its confident tone w^as amply justified. Many Indian 
capitalists have helped the movement, and its operations 
are constantly being extended into new channels. Some 
provinces, for instance, have established Central Land Banks, 
and there are schemes afoot for the organisation of land 

169 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

banks on the Egyptian model in irrigated areas, for which 
they are believed to be specially suitable. 

Among the other labours of Lord Curzon for the better- 
ment of the people on the land, one achievement stands out 
in striking prominence. He first introduced the application 
of scientific inquiry to the needs of Indian agriculture, on 
a comprehensive and systematic basis. From his Adminis- 
tration dates the beginning of that great movement towards 
agricultural education which is now visible in every province 
in India. 

The days are past when the association of scientific 
research with agricultural pursuits stood in need of defence. 
The United States has taught the world how much a well- 
organised Department of Agriculture can do for the people 
on the soil. In Australia I was told that careful experiment 
and investigation were largely changing agricultural condi- 
tions, and bringing into cultivation great areas once believed 
to be worthless. Every civilised nation has derived benefit 
from the experimental farm so long maintained by Sir John 
Lawes at Rothamsted. 

The traditional belief about the Indian cultivator was 
that he knew all that was worth knowing about the capacity 
of his land and the growing of crops. His implements, it 
was said, were simple, and his methods crude, but they were 
suited to his means and to the country. Dr. Voelcker, who 
made a special inquiry into Indian agriculture more than 
twenty years ago, did not hesitate to say that in his view 
" the improvement of cultivation is, in the main, not an 
agricultural need in India." In the light of later experi- 
ence. Dr. Voelcker's expression of opinion would hardly 
command general acceptance, although in some respects his 
report is still the most valuable document ever drafted on 
the subject. He made various recommendations, some of 
which were carried into effect, but with the exception of the 
appointment of Dr. Leather as Agricultural Chemist, very 
little scientific work followed his inquiry. Some of the 

170 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

provincial Governments maintained experimental farms, 
where investigations were pursued in a tentative fashion. 
Mr. H. S. Lawrence, who was himself Director of Agricul- 
ture in Bombay at a later period, has stated that when Lord 
Curzon arrived in India the four agricultural institutions 
existing at Poona, Saidapet, Cawnpore, and Nagpur " were 
all, broadly speaking, inefficient." In justice to earlier 
Viceroys, it must be admitted that they were sadly handi- 
capped by lack of funds ; but it was not only deficits in the 
Budget which had blocked agricultural progress. There 
was a still more patent lack of co-ordination of effort. The 
notion that a gulf was permanently fixed between the ryot 
and the results of modern discovery had endured too long. 
The comfortable gospel expounded by Dr. Voelcker had 
checked agricultural development, though such a result was 
very far from his intention. 

The day before he left India for ever, Lord Curzon 
summed up in a speech to the Bombay Chamber of Com- 
merce an answer to his own question : " What have we 
been doing for agriculture ? " He swept aside for the moment 
his land revenue policy, and the other measures I have 
described, and said : " Our real reform has been to endeavour 
for the first time to apply science on a large scale to the 
study and practice of Indian agriculture." He was for- 
tunate in his chief helper. He found in Sir Denzil Ibbetson, 
who was at the head of the Department of Land Revenue 
and Agriculture during the later stages of his Viceroyalty, 
a loyal lieutenant who shared — and perhaps helped to 
inspire — his devotion to questions in which the welfare 
of the bulk of the population was so closely concerned. 
He had the further advantage of association for five years 
with a Finance Minister, Sir Edward Law, of whom he 
once said that he believed he "derived more sincere 
pleasure from a successful agricultural experiment than 
he did from the yield of any impost." In such hands the 
prosecution of a vigorous and beneficent agricultural policy 

171 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

was at last assured. Its results are written broad upon 
India to-day. The country which is so largely dependent 
upon agriculture no longer suffers the reproach that it makes 
no efforts to develop and improve its staple industry. 

Lord Curzon's first step was to appoint, in 1901, an 
Inspector- General of Agriculture to control and direct the 
new policy. He chose Mr. J. MoUison, an able Canadian 
who had shown by his work for agriculture in Bombay that 
he possessed exceptional qualifications for the task. The 
new Inspector-General had no executive control over the 
Provincial Departments, but formed a unifying influence. 
Around him was gradually grouped a staff of scientific 
experts ; and though their resounding titles sometimes 
caused a smile, and humble district officers occasionally 
wondered what particular kind of wild-fowl an " Imperial 
Mycologist " might be, they were not long in justifying the 
creation of their appointments. The experts had to be 
housed, and needed laboratories for their researches. With 
the £20,000 given to Lord Curzon by Mr. Henry Phipps, 
and the further donation of £10,000 which Mr. Phipps 
afterwards added, an Agricultural Research Institute was 
established at Pusa, in Bengal. The Institute was designed 
to assist in " the solution of the fundamental problems of 
tropical agriculture"; and on the day in April 1905 when 
the Viceroy laid the foundation-stone, he said he wished he 
could return fifty years hence to see it. Could he do so, he 
should hope to find Pusa " the centre of a great organisation, 
with ramifications extending to all parts of the Indian 
Continent, training a series of native students who will 
devote their acquired knowledge to the practical pursuit of 
agriculture, and able to point to the tangible results of suc- 
cessful experiments, both in the quality of seeds and plants, 
in the destruction of pests, and in improvement of breeds of 
cattle." The Government added largely to the munificent 
gift of Mr. Phipps, and among the adjuncts to the Pusa 
Institute is an experimental farm of 1200 acres of soil on 

172 



THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

which almost any crop can be grown. Before Lord Curzon 
left India, the original scheme for a Research Laboratory 
had grown into a Central College of Agriculture, which has 
become the focus of the poHcy of agricultural development. 

The Pusa enterprise coincided with the announcement 
of an annual grant of £130,000 by the Government of India 
for purposes of " agricultural research, experiment, edu- 
cation, and demonstration." Much of this sum was handed 
over to the Provincial Governments, who added to it further 
annual grants amounting to more than £200,000. All this 
expenditure has since been materially increased. To the 
parent organisation at Pusa, similar establishments, including 
both Colleges of Agriculture and experimental farms, are 
being added in every province, each under its own Director 
of Agriculture. Lord Curzon has not had to wait fifty 
years to see the results of his policy. They may be traced 
every year in the proceedings of the remarkable Agri- 
cultural Conferences, attended by all grades of men from 
JNIaharajahs to small farmers, which are now held throughout 
India. When Lord Curzon went to India, the man who 
predicted that within a decade 600 representative agri- 
culturists would be meeting in one province alone, all filled 
with an ardent desire for the improvement of their industry, 
would have been laughed at as a dreamer. He found Indian 
agriculture reactionary and unprogressive, and he left it 
eager to march abreast with the new young countries of the 
AVestern hemisphere. 

The possibilities of the development of Indian agriculture 
are endless, despite the occasional fears of soil exhaustion, 
which have never been demonstrated after twenty years of 
inquiry. Take the example of cotton. An American, 
Mr. Patten of Chicago, said he thought that the solution of 
the problem of shortages in the world's supply of cotton was 
partly to be found in India, and I believe he was right. 
The subject of the improvement of the staple of Indian 
cotton has received intermittent attention for very nearly a 

173 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

century, but it is only recently that the Government have 
made much practical advance. The difficulties are great, for 
the cultivator prefers the coarse staples which can be grown 
and marketed quickly, and the mercantile community has 
not been as helpful as it should have been. It is a case for 
patience and perseverance. Fifteen years ago the Bombay 
millowners solemnly assured me that they could never spin 
and weave the higher counts of cotton which to-day they 
are manufacturing to their own exceeding profit. Nearly 
seven years ago I made a pilgrimage into the wilds of Sind, 
in fierce October heat, to see a patch of twenty acres of land 
which contained the germ of a great experiment. Upon it 
Egyptian cotton had for the first time been grown with 
marked success ; and though boll-worm and other drawbacks 
have since restricted the extension of the experiment, there 
is no doubt that Sind should eventually become a large 
producer of Egyptian cotton. The province has all the 
necessary conditions, including a clear dry atmosphere and 
perennial irrigation. What may be done for cotton may in 
time be done equally well for many other branches of Indian 
agriculture. W^e rightly hear much of the industrial 
awakening of India, but the agricultural awakening of the 
country is a portent of even greater significance and promise. 
I have left many subjects untouched, and have reserved 
the cognate questions of famine relief and irrigation for 
treatment in another chapter ; I have said nothing about 
the reduction of the salt tax, which brought some help to 
the slender resources of every ryot in the land ; but I trust 
I have adduced sufficient proof of the justice of Lord 
Curzon's valedictory claim that he left the peasantry of 
India better than he found them. 



174 



V 

THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

The greatest controversy of Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty 
aroused hardly an echo in England. I doubt whether many 
people who take an onlooker's interest in Indian affairs 
realise to-day that the hardest battle he fought was not 
about the partition of Bengal nor the administration of the 
Army. The strife about Bengal was a purely factitious 
agitation on the part of those who organised it. They used 
the creation of the new province as a pretext for inflaming 
the populace. The dispute about Army administration was 
not waged in the open arena. It was an affair of despatches, 
and the Indian communities knew very little about it until 
it was over. The principal conflict of Lord Curzon's term 
of office, the controversy which produced the greatest 
bitterness among the leaders of Indian opinion, centred 
upon his educational policy. 

The struggle regarding educational reform furnishes the 
hidden clue to many of the later episodes of Lord Curzon's 
Administration. To know its bearings is to comprehend 
much that followed it. The question was included in his first 
series of twelve projected reforms, but press of work and other 
circumstances prevented him from giving it much attention 
until he had been nearly three years in India. The first sketch, 
of his scheme of changes in the educational system was not 
published until October 1902. The Bill embodying one 
portion of the scliem^-wasliot introduced for more than a 
year afterwards. During the intervening period, there was a 

175 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

marked alteration in the attitude of Indian politicians and 
of a large section of the native Press. 

Until educational reform was placed in the forefront of 
the political stage, Lord Curzon had enjoyed a far larger 
share of popularity than usually falls to the lot of an 
energetic Viceroy bent upon change and improvement. 
Indians who were engaged in public affairs appreciated 
the candour with which he took the Indian peoples into his 
confidence concerning his hopes and aims. The native 
Press frequently broke into eulogies of the newjspirit he had 
imparted into the Administration. The apostles of the 
Indian National Congress never mentioned the Viceroy 
except to pronounce benedictions upon him. Let successive 
Presidents of that now eclipsed assembly bear their own 
testimony. In 1899 the late Mr. Romesh Chunder Dutt 
said at the Lucknow meeting of the Congress : 

"I honestly believe that no Viceroy ever came out to 
India with a more sincere desire to work for the good of the 
people, and with the help and co-operation of the people." 

In 1900 Sir Narayan Chandavarkar said at Lahore : 

" We have now at the helm of the Government of India 
a statesman of whom we may justly say that he promises to 
be all that a Viceroy of India ought to be. That he has 
won the hearts of the people and that the people trust him 
goes without saying, and the enthusiastic receptions he met 
with during his recent tour bear unmistakable testimony to 
his growing popularity. Lord Curzon has won the hearts 
of the people, because since he came amongst us as our 
Viceroy he has been more than a mere abstraction — he has 
been a flesh-and-blood Viceroy, who, whether he issues 
Resolutions, or makes speeches on State matters, seems to 
the people that he addresses tliem, and desires to take them 
into his confidence, and make his presence, his personality, 
and his energy felt throughout the land." 

176 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

No testimony of mine regarding the early years of Lord 
Curzon's Viceroyalty could carry a tithe of the weight which 
attaches to these generous words from one who was then, 
and remains to-day, among the most honoured men in India. 
At the Calcutta Congress in 1901 Mr. Dinshaw Eduljee 
Wacha, a politician whose unselfish public work has long 
won the admiration and respect even of those who differ 
from him, actually made an^ appeal in his presidential 
address that Lord Curzon's term of office might be extended. 
He said : 

" It is highly expedient . . . when we have a good Viceroy 
of a practical turn of mind, imbued with a deep sense of his 
responsibility, and intent on rendering lasting good to the 
masses, as Lord Curzon seems to be by universal consent, 
that he should be allowed to remain at the helm of affairs 
for a longer period than the orthodox five years, so that he 
may be in a position to achieve all the good which his 
knowledge and experience may have derived during the 
first term of his office. It is indeed most curious that a 
capable Viceroy, who is known to be rendering good, should 
have to lay down his office at the very time, or the psycho- 
logical moment, when India has the greater need of utilising 
to her best advantage his previously acquired experience." 

In his concluding remarks Mr. Wacha avowed that Lord 
Curzon's zeal for the advancement of the general welfare of 
the people was beyond all praise, and that his " uniform 
sympathy and burning desire to hold the scales even " were 
" unquestionable." 

When the Congress met at Ahmedabad in 1902, the 
report of the Universities Commission had been issued, and 
the atmosphere was becoming disturbed ; but Mr. Surendra 
Nath Banerjee, the President for the year, who is no apolo- 
gist for those in authority, was able to say that " throughout 
this controversy" the attitude of the Viceroy had been 
"eminently conciliatory." 

177 M 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

It was not until the Benares Congress of December 1905 
that Mr. Gokhale discovered that Lord Curzon had been 
" trampUng systematically " on the opinion of the educated 
classes ; while by 1907, at Surat, in a speech which remained 
unspoken in consequence of a memorable free fight, Dr. Rash 
Behari Ghose intended to declare, and afterwards announced 
through the obliging newspapers, that Lord Curzon " left 
undone everything which he ought to have done, and did 
everything which he ought not to have done." I need not 
ask forgiveness for this little incursion into the annals of a 
body which I have long regarded with the deepest interest. 
Chronologically it is instructive, and has a direct though not 
manifest connection with the subject of this chapter. For 
four years the Presidents of the National Congress praised 
Lord Curzon ; then there was silence ; and it was not until 
he had left the country for ever that the presidential denun- 
ciations resounded. 

The world, then, wore a rosy hue until Lord Curzon 
ventured to lay hands upon the system of higher education, 
mechanical, lifeless, perverted, with which India had been 
endowed. That system was gradually passing from the 
guidance of the Government into the hands of cliques who 
were bending it to their own ends. The University Senates 
had become the playgrounds of politicians who thought that 
by seizing the control of national education they could 
serve ulterior purposes of their own. When they saw the 
figure of the Viceroy in the doorway they knew that their 
hopes were shattered. The clamour began. 

Even then the storm did not gather much strength for 
some time. There were meetings of protest, and portentous 
resolutions from political associations, but it was not until 
towards the end of 1903, when the Universities Bill was 
before the Legislative Council, and Lord Curzon's first term 
of office was drawing to a close, that excitement rose to 
fever heat. During his absence in England, the agitation 
against the measure, which had meanwhile become law, was 

178 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

sedulously continued ; and long before he returned it had 
become abundantly clear that the opponents of the Act had 
determined to lose no opportunity of showing general hos- 
tility to his Administration. The Univ^ersities Act, however 
much it was disliked by political and intellectual India, was 
not a measure which left very much opening for an appeal 
to popular passion. But the impending partition of Bengal 
provided the necessary pretext, and the men who resented 
the curtailment of their baneful influence in educational 
matters found in an innocent administrative rearrangement 
the chance for a mischievous crusade. 

JVl^st of the animosity of Indi an politicians ^gainst Lord 
Curzon dates^omTEelappiarance of theJCJniversities Bill. 
No one knew that fact better~~tharnie did himself. In 
closing the debate on March 21, 1904, when the Bill was 
passed, he said : 

" I will not go back into the old story of the state into 
which University Education had fallen in India. When I 
first came out here, I was implored to take it up by many of 
those who have since fought the hardest against the changes 
for which they then appealed. Nothing would have been 
easier than to let it alone. Matters would merely have 
gone drifting along. The rush of immature striplings to 
our Indian Universities, not to learn but to earn, would 
have continued till it became an avalanche ultimately bring- 
ing the entire educational fabric down to the ground. Col- 
leges might have been left to multiply without regard to 
any criterion either of necessity or merit ; the examination 
curse would have tightened its grip upon the life of the rising 
generation ; standards would have sunk lower and lower ; the 
output would have steadily swollen in volume, at the cost of 
all that education ought to mean ; and one day India would 
have awakened to the fact that she had for years been bartering 
her intellectual heritage for the proverbial mess of pottage, 
and no more. My honourable colleague, Mr. Raleigh, and 
I set ourselves to defeat this destiny." 

No one who has watched Lord Curzon's public career 

179 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

will believe that he would ever blench from an obvious duty 
through fear of arousing hostility. Had he taken the easy 
course, he would have shrunk from touching educational 
reform at all, and might have left India hearing only " the 
long waves of acclamation roll " ; but if he had done so, he 
would have been untrue to his high mission. There was no 
question in India more urgently in need of attention, and he 
grappled it firmly, well knowing the risks he ran. In spite 
of all his struggling, he did not achieve a final settlement. 
I do not think any impartial observer who contemplates the 
educational system of India to-day can deny that it is still 
very far from satisfactory. Lord Cur zon's o wn estimate of 
his educational work was perhaps unclulyJE^h. He made 
many admTrable r?fornlsr~and~ire~"tnHicated the lines of 
further progress, but he never fully appreciated the magni- 
tude of the obstacles arrayed against him. He was com- 
pelled to leave much undone, for the task was enormous. 
Those who came after him lacked his indomitable energy, 
and the forces of reaction gathered fresh strength. The 
feeling among the best educationists in India now is, not 
that he was drastic, but that he was not half drastic enough. 
His work remained a torso, which others are now labouring 
upon with painful slowness ; but had he devoted all his 
years in India to educational reform alone, he would not 
have completed the undertaking, so great is the work to do, 
so protracted the process of accomplishment. 

I should be doing injustice to both parties in the educa- 
tion controversy if I left the impression, which I fear I may 
have conveyed, that political motives were prominent, at 
any rate in the earlier stages. They existed, but on the 
whole they were incidental. Lord Curzon told the Educa- 
tional Conference which met at Simla in 1901 that "the 
Government desire, with an honesty of purpose that is not 
open to question, and with aims that few will contest, to 
place the educational system of the country upon a sounder 
and firmer basis." If in the course of his efforts he found it 

180 



i 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

necessary to cleanse and purify the system of government 
of the Universities — for that, after all, was the head and 
front of his offending — he did so merely as part, and not 
necessarily the most important part, of a far greater 
enterprise. 

On the other hand, it is difficult to suppose that Indian 
politicians had consciously set out years before to " capture " 
the Universities. That would be to credit them with a 
degree of astuteness which I do not think they have ever 
possessed. They had drifted into a position of undue 
influence in the Universities, and had contracted the habit 
of using that influence for purposes not likely to promote 
better education, owing to the somnolence of the Government. 
Only a few among them had begun to perceive, and in some 
respects deliberately to exercise, the dangerous power they 
had acquired by the default of the authorities. When 
reform was seriously proposed they saw in a flash that their 
influence was menaced, and at once became hostile. 

Other considerations were also at work. Some Indian 
political leaders were interested in private educational insti- 
tutions affiliated to the Universities, and the Senates of 
which they were the masters controlled the right of affilia- 
tion. They were not willing to impair their almost auto- 
cratic right to decide upon questions of affiliation. Then 
they saw that if the conditions of instruction were changed 
the Universities would not form quite such a ready passport 
for admission to the public service, and they had been 
always eager to make it even easier for their nominees to 
enter State employment. Behind these fears lay the growing 
conviction that Lord Curzon was bent upon restricting the 
opportunities for higher education open to young Indians. 
The idea was a ludicrous travesty of his real intentions, but 
it was seriously entertained, and did much to stimulate 
opposition to the Universities Bill. Educated Indians\ 
sincerely thought that the Viceroy meant to deal a blowl 
at the University system, and many of them were never l 

181 



INDIA UNDEK CURZON AND AFTER 

I able to understand from first to last that his sole object was 
to make it more efficient. 

It is not my purpose, in dealing with this aspect of Lord 
Curzon's Viceroyalty, to pen a general dissertation upon the 
thorny question of Indian education. No topic connected 
with India has been written upon so interminably, or as a 
rule with so little profit. Whether it is approached by 
Englishmen or Indians, it almost invariably seems to produce 
the same results, for it stimulates prolixity, tends to the 
development of the most dogmatic opinions, develops 
bitterness in the most unexpected quarters, and frequently 
ends by becoming enveloped in a curious vagueness of 
thought. One would have imagined that the great problem 
of leading multitudinous races towards a higher intellectual 
level, and a nobler standard of life, would have induced a 
*' sweet reasonableness," and an amiable unity of purpose, in 
those who contemplated it. With a fairly wide experience, 
I can testify that usually it has the reverse effect, and that 
those who study the question of Indian education generally 
discover that they have entered upon a battlefield, in which 
there is a strong temptation to exchange blows with the 
best. It is a temptation which I propose to resist so far as 
possible, for I am only concerned here with the humbler 
duty of narration. 

Lord Curzon, when he first became Viceroy, did not 
appear to be fully aware of the condition into which Indian 
education had lapsed. On taking his seat as Chancellor of 
the Calcutta University, a very few weeks after his arrival, he 
told the graduates that he believed the existing system to be 
" faulty, and not rotten," and said he felt that cautious 
reform and not wholesale reconstruction should probably be 
the motto of Government action. At the same time he was 
not certain that the Supreme Government exercised as 
genuine a supervision over education as it might do. They 
had been expecting the plant to flourish, when they had not 
sufficiently exerted themselves to trim and prune its branches. 

182 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

The graduates politely applauded, and no one dreamed of 
the coming storm ; but the little remark about the direct 
responsibility of the Government, uttered five weeks after 
the Viceroy's arrival in India, contained the kernel of the 
vs^hole matter. 

By the time Lord Curzon again attended the Convocation 
of the Calcutta University, a year later, in February 1900, 
his views had undergone notable development. He specially 
noted traces of laxity in the affiliation of schools and colleges 
to the Universities, and a "tendency sometimes to increase 
the number of the affiliated without due regard to the 
character of the teachers, the quality of the training, or the 
degree of discipline." There could be no mistake about the 
warning contained in the following passage : 

" To call upon the State to pay for education out of the 
public funds, but to divest itself of responsibility for their 
proper allocation to the purposes which the State had in 
view in giving them, is to ignore the elementary obligations 
for which the State itself exists. My desire, therefore, is to 
revindicate on behalf of the State and its various provincial 
agents that responsibility which there has been a tendency 
to abdicate, and to show to the world that our educational 
system in India, liberal and elastic as I would have it 
remain, is yet not free to assume any promiscuous shape 
that accident or intention may force upon it, but must 
conform to a scientific and orderly scheme, for which in the 
last resort the Supreme Government should be held account- 
able, whether it be for praise or for blame." 

At the time these views were uttered, no prominent 
Indian, so far as I am aware, called them in question ; yet 
they contain the essence of the Viceroy's subsequent action. 
In the East it is not uncommon for an audience to applaud 
sonorous sentiments, though the same people will express 
the utmost indignation if there is any attempt to translate 
the sentiments into practice. In later years the claim of 

183 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the Government to exercise a larger and more efficient 
control over education was bitterly resented. 

When the Viceroy met the Calcutta graduates for the 
third time, in February 1901, he had still taken no open 
step towards a comprehensive reform in the educational 
system, though he again told them that the Government of 
India had in view " a more diligent discharge of its own 
responsibilities." But he had not failed to watch the 
education question carefully, and in one minor respect he 
had come to a significant decision. He had, as Chancellor, 
temporarily stopped the election of Fellows to the Calcutta 
University ; and after an explanation of his reasons he 
reminded the University " that its primary aims were the 
dissemination of knowledge and the training for life ; and 
that its powers and resources were given to it, not to satisfy 
the ambitions of individuals, or the designs of cliques, but 
to promote the intellectual service of the community at 
large." Even these pointed observations failed to arouse 
much apprehension. 

That autumn the work began. In September a Confer- 
ence assembled at Simla " to consider the system of educa- 
tion in India." It included the leading education officials 
of the country and a number of eminent members of the 
Government, and the Viceroy himself presided over its 
deliberations. His labours at this period astonished all who 
were associated with him. He toiled at every detail of the 
subject, and spared no pains to investigate it in all its 
branches. He was then in the full stride of his work, and 
had reached a question which lay very near his heart. But 
no frame could stand the strain he imposed upon himself, 
and his strenuous exertions before and during the Educa- 
tional Conference left effiscts upon his health which were 
never afterwards wholly effiiced. 

The Conference met privately, and its deliberations were 
not published. Its privacy was afterwards made the subject 
of taunts, and there were the inevitable references to the 

184 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

Star Chamber. These complaints were unjustifiable. The 
Viceroy explained at the outset that the Conference was an 
informal and confidential gathering of " the highest educa- 
tional officers of Government, as well as of the official 
representatives of our leading Universities." It had not 
met to devise '* a brand-new plan of educational reform " ; 
as the Viceroy had told the Calcutta University nearly two 
years before, he merely wanted to survey the ground first 
" in consultation with those who had devoted their lives to 
the task." Informal though the Conference was, its consti- 
tution, though not its privacy, was open to criticism. Every 
member was a Government officer, save one, Dr. Miller, the 
veteran Principal of the Madras Christian College ; and not 
a single Indian found a place at the Conference table. 
Lord Curzon had said in Calcutta that he wanted to 
ascertain " the trend of authoritative opinion " ; what he 
heard was the trend of official opinion. 

The Viceroy opened the Conference with a speech which 
was addressed not only to his immediate hearers, but to all 
India. It was in some respects the most remarkable, as it 
was certainly the longest, speech of his whole Administra- 
tion. He covered the whole field of Indian education, 
University, secondary, primary, and technical, and it was 
apparent that if he had been slow to move he had made an 
exhaustive private study of the subject. He began by 
dissociating himself from those who held that the experi- 
ment of imparting an EngHsh education to an Asiatic 
people was a mistake. There had been blunders, but the 
successes were immeasurably greater, and the moral and 
intellectual standard of the community had been raised. 
He did not want to disparage and pull down, for his whole 
object was to reconstruct and build up. They had started 
by a too slavish imitation of English models, and had never 
purged themselves of the taint. By making education the 
sole avenue to employment in the service of the State, they 
unconsciously made examination the sole test of education. 

185 



\ 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

In India the examination method had been pushed to 
greater excess than he had come across in any country, 
except China. A people could not rise in the scale of 
intelligence by the exercise of memory alone. There was, 
moreover, a misdirection, and in some cases a waste, of 
u force, and a lack of a common principle and a common aim. 
He did not hesitate to avow once more the responsibility of 
the Government. He held the education of the Indian 
people to be as much a duty of the Central Government as 
the police of their cities, or the taxation of their citizens. 
The Government could never abrogate their personal respon- 
sibility for the living welfare of the multitudes committed 
to their care. 

Passing to details, he examined the University system, 
inquiring whether they could be gradually changed from 
purely examining into teaching institutions ; and he discussed 
the necessity for the provision and inspection of hostels for 
students. In the government of the Universities, in the 
constitution and composition of the Syndicates and Senates, 
there was need for substantial reform. The Senates were 
unwieldy, and were filled, in the main, not by the test of 
educational interest, or influence, or knowledge, but by that 
of personal or official distinction. The Syndicates shared 
with the Senates the absence of uniformity, with what 
seemed to him to be even more undesirable results. The 
Conference would further have to consider whether the 
academic standard was sufficiently high. At Madras, out of 
7300 persons who presented themselves for the Entrance 
University Examination, certified by their teachers to be 
fit for the higher courses of teaching, as many as four-fifths 
were rejected. He asked himself what the value of the 
school final courses could have been. Some might argue 
that the tests were too hard, but he preferred to ask whether 
the preceding stages were not too easy. Yet he had been 
invited by respectable newspapers to commemorate the 
name of the late Queen-Empress Victoria by lowering the 

186 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

standard all round ! A system, the standards of which were 
in danger of being degraded, was a system that must sooner 
or later decline. They did not want to close the doors of 
the Colleges, or to reduce the numbers of their pupils, but 
it was quality, not quantity, that they should have in view. 
It was equally their duty to maintain a high standard in the 
affiliation of Colleges, and to exercise great care and caution 
in their recognition. 

As to secondary education, no doubt the Education 
Commission of 1882-83 was right in laying down the 
principle that private effort should be encouraged, and that 
the Government should gradually withdraw from the direct 
management of secondary schools ; but he thought that 
secondary education was not yet in most parts in a position 
to stand alone, and that Government institutions should be 
continued as models. Primary education, the teaching of 
the masses in the vernacular, opened a wider and more con- 
tested field of study, and in that respect he thought the 
Government had not fulfilled its duty. " Ever since the 
cold breath of Macaulays rhetoric passed over the field of 
the Indian languages and Indian text-books," said Lord 
Curzon, " the elementary education of the people in their 
own tongue has shrivelled and pined." Though he stoutly 
urged the claims of primary education, he protested against 
being exposed to the misapprehension that he was therefore 
disparaging higher education. He regarded both as equally 
the care and duty of the Government ; but it could not be 
right that three out of every four country villages were still 
without a school, and that less than one-fifth of the total 
boys of school-going age were in receipt of primary educa- 
tion. The Viceroy afterwards discussed technical education, 
by which he meant "that practical instruction which will 
qualify a youth or a man for the practice of some handicraft, 
or industry, or profession " ; and such kindred topics as 
training colleges, the recruitment of the Educational Service, 
female education, and moral teaching. He closed by referring 

187 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

to the desirability of creating a Director-General of Educa- 
tion, some one who would " help them to secure that com- 
munity of principle and of aim without which they went 
drifting about like a deserted hulk on chopping seas." 

I have treated this speech at some length, because it still 
constitutes the best exposition of the aims which inspired 
Lord Curzon when he actively inaugurated the work of 
educational reform, and because it discloses their purity and 
loftiness. I would lay special stress upon his disagreement 
with those who think that the introduction of English educa- 
tion into India was a mistake. Macaulay was right in prin- 
ciple, though wrong in method. Had we not unlocked for 
the peoples of India the stores of Western learning, they 
would have forced the gates open for ^themselves. They 
would never have been content to browse for ever amid 
the shady and venerable groves of Sanskrit literature. The 
West had burst asunder the barriers they had reared against 
intrusion ; and it was to the West that they naturally turned 
for new light and fresh guidance. We may have forged the 
key which has opened the flood-gates against us, but we 
could not well have done otherwise. Three hundred mil- 
lions of people could not have been left in intellectual 
bondage. Too many Englishmen in India are wont to decry 
the whole system of education and its results. I appreciate, 
but cannot endorse, the feelings which lead them to echo 
the sentiment which Aunt Butson inscribed upon the black- 
board when she closed the school at Shining Ferry. 

The inquiries of the Educational Conference were, it 
was understood, punctuated by a series of resolutions, in 
which the necessity for University reform was prominently 
urged. Lord Curzon had already made up his mind that 
the Conference must be followed by a more public inquiry, 
and on January 27, 1902, the constitution of a Universities 
Commission was announced. The Commission was appointed 
to inquire into the conditions and prospects of the Indian 
Universities, to report upon proposals which might improve 

188 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

their constitution and working, and to recommend such 
measures as might tend " to elevate the standard of Univer- 
sity teaching and to promote the advancement of learning." 
It was presided over by Mr., now Sir, Thomas Raleigh, the 
Legal Member of the Viceroy's Executive Council, who 
had a leading share in working out the details of Lord 
Curzon's educational policy. A Fellow of All Souls, a 
former Oxford lecturer and professor, and an ardent believer 
in the highest type of University training. Sir Thomas 
Raleigh was well equipped for his task. The members of 
the Commission included Mr. Syed Hossain Bilgrami, a 
distinguished Mahomedan who was Director of Public 
Instruction in the Nizam's dominions, and who afterwards 
became the first Moslem member of the Secretary of State's 
Council. When the Hindu community complained that it 
was unrepresented, Mr. Justice Guru Dass Banerjee, of the 
Calcutta High Court, was added to the Commission, and at 
its close he signed a Note of dissent. 

The Commission made a three months' tour, visiting all 
the Universities, and a number of affiliated colleges, and two 
months afterwards, in June 1902, it presented its report. 
It was complained afterwards that its proceedings were 
hurried, but there was little foundation for the charge. It 
examined 156 witnesses, and the issues it had to decide were 
not recondite. Upon its recommendations the Universities 
Bill was based. 

The principal reforms advocated by the Commission in- 
cluded a reduction in the size and a change in the con- 
stitution of the Senates, steps which were, indeed, badly 
needed. The Senate of the Allahabad University numbered 
82, that of Lahore 104, of Calcutta 180, and of Madras 197, 
while the Bombay Senate had actually been swollen to 310. 
The conditions existing in Bombay were extraordinary, as I 
can testify. The local Government and the University 
authorities alike had apparently lost all recollection of the 
reasons for which the honour of Fellowship was instituted. 

189 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

It was regarded as a minor distinction, useful for staving off 
importunate people who craved recognition, and ranking 
with, but after, the then (though no longer) equally empty 
honour of enrolment as a Justice of the Peace. Academic 
qualifications were not the slightest passport to selection, 
and sometimes were even a hindrance. There were Fellows 
so illiterate that they could hardly sign their own names. 

Changes in the constitution of the Syndicates were also 
advised. The Commission further recommended that the 
territorial limits of the jurisdiction of Universities should be 
defined, and that no new Universities should for the present 
be created ; that stringent conditions for the recognition of 
affiliated institutions should be imposed ; that the Univer- 
sities should conduct no school examinations whatever ; and 
that the examination system should be revised and simplified, 
and examination by compartments abolished. It urged that 
the minimum age for matriculation should be sixteen, 
though the Government, in a covering Resolution, showed 
a preference for fifteen. As to the recognition of schools, it 
was also recommended that the privilege should be granted 
only to schools which were certified to conform to the rules 
of the Education Department, or in the case of unaided 
schools, to rules framed by the University. The Com- 
mission said that there should be insistence on the better 
equipment of affiliated colleges, and supervision of the places 
of residence of students. Three recommendations which 
aroused great hostility were; (1) that a minimum rate of 
college fees should be fixed ; (2) that second-grade colleges 
(teaching only up to the Intermediate examination of a 
University) should be gradually abolished ; (3) that the 
system of teaching law by law classes attached to Arts 
colleges should be modified. The Government of India was 
not in complete accord with any of these recommendations, 
though it instituted inquiries regarding the possibility of the 
more general establishment of central law schools. 

The report of the Commission and the comments of 

190 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

the Government upon it were published in October 1902, 
and were at once subjected to severe attack. A meeting of 
protest was held in the Calcutta Town Hall, and Mr. 
Surendra Nath Banerjee has drawn a characteristic picture 
of the " old men, bent down with the weight of years, the 
representatives of an older school of thought and culture, 
the products of our pre-University system," who " came 
tottering to place on record their protest against the recom- 
mendations of the Commission." The cry was raised, and 
embodied in Congress resolutions, that Senates and Syndicates 
would be " officialised," and that the Universities would be 
** practically converted into Government Departments." 
The system of examinations was defended, as was to be 
expected ; for any one who has looked upon the amazing 
array of examination cells at Canton and Peking, as I have 
done, must realise that the mnemonic test has some peculiar 
fascination for the Asiatic mind. The suggested raising of 
college fees was fiercely condemned as likely to throw 
difficulties in the way of the higher education of the poor. 
Many other objections were offered as the agitation grew> 
but it was always manifest that the proposed cleansing of 
the system of controlling the Universities was the bitter 
pill which did most to create opposition. 

The organised hostility with which Lord Curzon's 
schemes of educational reform were met was to a great 
extent the work of one remarkable man. In India, as in 
some other countries, the politicians who exercise the 
strongest influence are not always those who are constantly 
in the public eye. It was so in this instance, and the 
man who really stimulated and kept alive the fight against 
University reform is worth a little attention, for he played a 
great part in Indian political life during Lord Curzon's Vice- 
royalty, and his influence was not less potent because it was 
often unseen. Sir Pherozeshah Mehta was at that time 
unquestionably the strongest and ablest politician in India. 
Even to-day lie still takes a prominent place in public affairs, 

191 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

though his health has of late prevented him from being 
eitlier so active or so dominant as in former years. Though 
his attitude on many questions may have been open at times 
to strong dissent, he has always commanded deserved 
respect from opponents and supporters alike. Lord Curzon 
himself recommended him for the Knight Commandership 
of the Indian Empire which was bestowed upon him — the 
date suggests a certain generosity of mind — in 1904. 

Sir Pherozeshah Mehta is incidentally a Bombay lawyer, 
but at the time of which I speak he had long exercised 
dominating and almost autocratic control in three public 
bodies — the National Congress, the Bombay Corporation, 
and the Senate of the Bombay University. In national 
politics he had been always, and still is, strictly constitu- 
tional. In his earlier years he had imbibed the spirit of 
British Liberalism of the older type, and had sat at the feet 
of Gladstone and Bright, and his sojourn in England had 
left an ineffaceable mark upon his mind. Though he went 
far in later years in his unavailing efforts to retain the 
Extremist leaders in the Congress fold, he never gave 
countenance to the doctrines by which their propaganda was 
ultimately stained. In the Congress he was on the whole a 
restraining and pacific influence, a reconciler of insurgents, 
the man who brought the battalions to heel for public 
inspection. He controlled the Congress for years by sheer 
force of character and capacity for handling men. The 
others talked, but in the end he had his way, and his way 
never exceeded constitutional limits. In the local municipal 
politics of Bombay he was supreme. He had his own 
following in the Corporation — of which he was once more the 
President in 1911 — and the city usually had to bow to his 
imperious will. It is due to him to say that his power was 
sparingly exercised in municipal affairs, and that by his 
example he added breadth and dignity to the public life of 
Bombay. 

But though also a member of the Provincial Legislative 

192 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

Council, and occasionally of the Imperial Council, his most 
cherished interests lay, perhaps somewhat oddly, in the 
Bombay University. There he was monarch of all he 
surveyed, and he valued his power in University affairs far 
more than the authority he was able to exert elsewhere. 
The University lay near his heart. He viewed with 
indignation the proposals for reform, and thought— I am 
quite sure in all sincerity, and I know him well — that they 
were misguided. He set himself to stimulate opposition, 
and succeeded only too well. His friends in Bengal perhaps 
needed little encouragement from elsewhere ; but the per- 
sistent antagonism of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta had more to do 
with the difficulties which Lord Curzon experienced in the 
later years of his Viceroyalty than any other single factor. 
The feeling thus aroused eventually swept far beyond the 
control of its originator, and may be said to have accelerated 
the decline of his own influence. 

For a whole year the report of the Universities Com- 
mission underwent heated discussion in the Press and on the 
platform. On November 2, 1903, the Universities Bill, 
which had been previously submitted to the Secretary of 
State, was introduced into the Legislative Council by Sir 
Thomas Raleigh. In the course of the debates which 
followed, the Viceroy himself summarised the principal 
features of the Bill in the following words : 

"Its main principle is ... to raise the standard of 
education all round, and particularly of higher education. 
What we want to do is to apply better and less fallacious 
tests than at present exist, to stop the sacrifice of everything 
in the colleges which constitute our University system to 
cramming, to bring about better teaching by a superior class 
of teachers, to provide for closer inspection of colleges and 
institutions which are now left practically alone, to place the 
Government of the Universities in competent, expert, and 
enthusiastic hands, to reconstitute the Senates, to define and 
regulate the powers of the Syndicates, to give statutory 

193 N 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

recognition to the elected Fellows, who are now only 
appointed on sufferance, ... to show the way by which our 
Universities, which are now merely examining Boards, can 
ultimately be converted into teaching institutions ; in fact, 
to convert higher education in India into a reality instead of 
a sham. These are the principles underlying the Bill." 



M. Chailley, a quite unprejudiced commentator, has 
declared that the Act as passed " constitutes the real charter 
of present-day education in India." Lord Curzon afterwards 
said of it : " We provide the machinery for reform ; but 
we leave the Universities to carry it out." The Universities 
were given new governing powers and requested to adopt a 
policy. That policy has been compendiously defined as 
intended " to substitute for a system which provides merely 
for examining students in those subjects to which their 
aptitudes direct them, a system which compels them also to 
study those subjects systematically under efficient instruc- 
tion and supervision." The reformed Senates were to consist 
of not more than one hundred Fellows, and their tenure of 
office was in future to be not more than five years ; the 
Syndicates were to be remodelled ; and the ultimate decision 
regarding the affiliation and disaffiliation of colleges, and the 
recognition of schools, was left in the hands of the Govern- 
ment, who would receive the recommendations of the 
reformed Universities. Only those students who had com- 
pleted a course of instruction in an affiliated College could 
offer themselves as candidates at a University examination. 
Colleges were only to be eligible for affiliation if they 
complied with conditions laid down regarding "their 
governing bodies, the qualifications of their teaching staff, 
their financial condition, their buildings and accommodation, 
the possession of a library, faciUties for practical instruction 
in science, and due supervision of students." Affiliated 
Colleges were to be subject to inspection. The conditions 
prescribed for them were to be set forth by the Senates in 

194 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

regulations. Lord Curzon claimed that a very large measure 
of independence was left to the Senates, and that the real 
power for the future would be vested in them. His ideal 
was that of " self-governing institutions watched parentally 
by the Government in the background." That the Senates 
still retain very large and effective powers of obstruction is, 
by the way, indicated by the hostile reception accorded to 
Sir George Clarke's scheme of reforms in Bombay, 

The debates upon the Bill were protracted, and the 
attack upon it was led by INIr. G. K. Gokhale, of Poona, a 
talented and eloquent Brahmin, who was the principal 
spokesman for the " Opposition " in Council during Lord 
Curzon's term of office. Mr. Gokhale was himself an 
educationist of considerable repute, an earnest advocate of 
Indian Nationalist ideals, agile in controversy, laborious in 
the preparation of his subjects, but somewhat lacking in 
influence over his political associates. He is now in the 
forefront of Indian political life, and his countrymen are 
justly proud of him, yet throughout his career his precise 
platform and ideals have been rather difficult to define. It 
must be remembered, however, that his position midway 
between two schools of thought has been difficult also, and 
Indian politicians may not unreasonably claim that the 
charge of instability should not be brought too readily 
against them. In the matter of the Universities Bill, 
however, there was no obscurity about the attitude of 
Mr. Gokhale, for he fought it in uncompromising fashion. 
Lord Curzon rebutted with much vigour his suggestion 
that it was the desire and intention of the Government to 
place the Indian element in a hopeless minority on the 
future Senates, and closed by asserting that he was not so 
sanguine as to think that, because they passed the Bill, a 
new heaven and a new earth would straight away dawn 
upon India. 

The Bill was passed on March 21, 1904, and its provisions 
were gradually carried into effisct. After more than seven 

195 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

years' working, I doubt whether any of those who opposed 
it with so much violence would subscribe to the same 
arguments to-day. No one says now that it was a blow to 
the cause of higher education in India, whereas many who 
were at first alarmed are ready to admit with alacrity that 
it has had admirable results. Opposition to its provisions 
was long waged, however, and there was even a suit in the 
Bombay High Court to prevent its operation during the 
stage of transition. The Government speedily put an end 
to the obstruction by passing a short validating Act. The 
intentions of the measure were not achieved without much 
delay, and in some respects the changes it involved are not 
complete even now. In more than one Senate the University 
curriculum remains a fruitful source of disputation. The 
Bombay University has been involved in a prolonged con- 
troversy regarding the matriculation examination. While 
Senates and Syndicates are almost as combative as ever, the 
old criticisms of the tendencies of Indian education appear 
to be offered from other quarters with unabated vehemence. 
In short, the question of Indian education is still a battle- 
field, and the day seems likely to be far distant when it will 
cease to resound with strife. In some provinces the prin- 
ciples laid down by Lord Curzon were only very languidly 
prosecuted after he left India. The powers of disaffiliation 
were left too much in abeyance, and the unfortunate resigna- 
tion of Sir Bampfylde Fuller, the Lieutenant-Governor of 
Eastern Bengal, was directly induced by the refusal of the 
Government of India to disaffiliate two institutions in 
Eastern Bengal which were believed to have become 
nurseries of sedition. The growth of subtle seditious 
propaganda in many schools and colleges is an unwhole- 
some symptom, and the facilities now provided for checking 
it have been insufficiently used. Yet despite all these draw- 
backs, there are many signs of progress, and the atmosphere 
is far healthier than it was when Lord Curzon began his 
crusade. Among other things, there is now a reasonably 

196 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

adequate inspection of affiliated colleges and schools. It 
may be noted that the recommendation of the Educational 
Conference regarding minimum fees was only adopted in a 
very modified form ; and that one of the subsidiary reforms 
instituted by Lord Curzon was the partial substitution 
of principles of selection among candidates for Govern- 
ment service, instead of blind reliance upon examination 
tests. 

I have devoted much space to the contentious episode 
which signalised the inauguration of Lord Curzon's educa- 
tional policy ; but it has to be remembered that, although 
the Universities Act was the bed-rock of his reforms, osten- 
sibly it dealt only with one phase of them. His educational 
work is traceable in many other directions where there was 
less antagonism. In 1902 he created the post of Director- 
General of Education, and Mr. H. W. Orange, of the 
English Board of Education, was the first holder of the 
office. JNIr. Orange has now returned to England, and has 
become Chief Inspector of Elementary Schools. He had no 
executive authority while in India, but was adviser to the 
Central Government on educational matters. He kept them 
in touch with the local Governments, and, though his posi- 
tion seemed a little anomalous, he did valuable work in 
co-ordinating the system of education in the provinces. 
One of his most useful innovations was the creation of a 
central bureau of educational intelligence. Lord Curzon 
told the Educational Conference : '• I do not desire an 
Imperial Education Department, packed with pedagogues, 
and crusted with officialism. I do not advocate a JNIinister 
or Member of Council for Education." Others have thought 
differently, and last year a Ministry for Education was 
created. Its success will depend very largely upon the 
degree to which flexibility of policy is permitted to the pro- 
vincial Governments. It is too soon yet to estimate the 
value of the new Department, but if any man can justify 
the change, that man^ is Mr. Harcourt Butler, the brilliant 

197 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

civil servant who has become the first Indian Minister for 
Education. 

I do not propose to enter upon a long recital of the 
work of Lord Ciirzon accomplished in other parts of the 
educational field. Were I to do so, I should have to speak 
in detail of his permanent annual grant of over £230,000 in 
aid of primary education, in addition to a still larger special 
grant in 1902 ; of the thousands of new primary schools 
which were thereby opened ; of his efforts to raise the pay 
of primary teachers, and of the special agricultural lessons 
prescribed for village children ; of the progress made in pro- 
viding more competent instructors, and more numerous 
inspectors, and in reducing examinations in secondary 
schools ; of his recognition of the special requirements of 
commercial education : of the impulse he gave to the educa- 
tion of Europeans and Eurasians in India ; of his labours 
for technical education, of his schemes for industrial schools, 
and the technical scholarships he instituted ; of the help 
he gave towards the scheme which arose out of the late 
Mr. Jamsetjee Tata's munificent bequest for an Institute of 
Science, now established at Bangalore ; of the strengthen- 
ing of the engineering and law colleges ; of the overhaul- 
ing of text-books which he directed ; of his interest in 
female education ; and of the improvements he effected 
in the Educational Service. To treat of these topics at 
length would perhaps be wearisome to English readers ; but 
it is necessary to say that, so far as the funds at his disposal 
permitted. Lord Curzon gave generous help to the cause 
of primary education in India. 

The whole question of primary education is a question of 
money. Since Lord Curzon's departure, the subject has 
been very much under discussion, and the interest displayed 
in it has not always been marked by wisdom or prudence. 
Two years ago Mr. Gokhale introduced into the Imperial 
Council a resolution recommending that elem. en tary education 
should gradually be made free and compulsory throughout 

198 



THE FIGHT FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 

India. This year he has submitted a small permissive Bill 
empowering District Boards and Municipalities, under certain 
circumstances, to introduce compulsion into their areas, at 
first for boys, and, when the time is ripe, for girls also. The 
Bill provides that instruction shall only be gratuitous in the 
case of very poor families. The Government of India, on 
their part, have somewhat incautiously expressed tentative 
approval of the principle of free primary education, only to 
find themselves confronted by alarming estimates of its 
probable cost, and by the almost unanimous disapproval of 
the local Governments. While primary education remains 
so partial in India, it is inadvisable to make it free. The 
minute fees are never a bar to parents who are anxious to 
have their children educated, for every province has a free list 
which is never full ; and India is certainly not ripe for com- 
pulsory education. Sir John Hewett told the Government 
of India that he thought primary education should become 
general before it was made free ; and that it was not the fees, 
but the indifference to education, which debarred parents 
living near schools from sending their children to be taught. 
It remains to add that Lord Curzon rounded off his work 
of educational reform by issuing, on March 11, 1904, a 
Resolution on Indian educational policy which bore com- 
parison with the similar Resolution on land revenue policy 
described in the last chapter. It covered every branch of 
the subject, laid down principles for further guidance, was 
both concise and comprehensive, and marked the advent of a 
new era both in the spirit and in the methods of Indian 
education. No such summary of the educational aims of 
the British in India had appeared since the memorable 
despatch of the Court of Directors in the year 1854. Many 
of its chief points have been already noted ; but it is worth 
recording that it reaffirmed the settled policy of the Govern- 
ment to abstain from interfering with the religious 
instruction given in aided schools, and to keep the instruc- 
tion in Government institutions "exclusively secular." 

199 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Lord Curzon was not unmindful of the importance of 
moral training, and spoke at length upon it in 1901 ; but 
he saw the immense difficulties of religious instruction in 
Government schools. His remarkable Resolution has been 
criticised for its omission to deal more definitely with the 
question. Deeply conscious though he was of the evils 
arising from the divorce of education from religion in India, 
it is permissible to assume that he would not have counten- 
anced some of the remedies which have since been suggested. 
If I may venture to add my own view, it is that I can see no 
safe solution of a problem which is nevertheless fraught with 
grave danger for the future well-being of the people of India. 
In taking leave of the Directors of Public Instruction at 
Simla on September 20, 1905 — when he remarked that he 
felt "rather like a general addressing his marshals for the 
last time " — Lord Curzon said he did not regret the battle 
or the storm over the Universities legislation, for he was 
" firmly convinced that out of them had been born a new 
life for Higher Education in India." The conviction was 
justified, but in the light of later knowledge it must be 
added that, through no fault of its creator, the period of 
youth has been marked by many ailments. M. Chailley, 
than whom there is perhaps no more competent critic on this 
particular subject, has recorded his opinion that in the 
absence of Lord Curzon, whose tenacity of purpose was 
needed to guide the measure into law, the reform will 
languish. I do not take so despondent a view, but I think 
the confident hopes of 1905 are very far from being realised 
in many respects, and that Indian education has been only 
partially reconstructed. Yet the new foundations are there^^ 
other strenuous builders are at last at work ; and the Viceroy ") 
who fearlessly braved unpopularity, and undermined his ow;q p'^^icj 
health in a noble cause, did not labour in vain. / ^^^li- 



200 



VI 

THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

In approaching the engrossing subject of the princes of 
India, and of Lord Curzon's intercourse with them, I grow 
conscious of exceeding difficulty. The relations between 
a Viceroy and the Maharajahs are to some extent delicate 
and confidential, and in certain respects are rightly not 
regarded as fitting topics for public discussion. Nevertheless 
they are by no means secret. If the internal diplomacy of 
India is not precisely shouted from the house-tops, it is 
always whispered in the bazaars. The way secrets leak out 
in India would drive the staff of a European Embassy to 
despair. I have often said that in that bewildering Empire 
nothing remains secret very long which is known to more 
than one person. I was once discussing a confidential State 
question with a very high dignitary indeed, and in the course 
of the conversation our voices unconsciously rose. The great 
man's secretary suddenly entered from a room across the 
passage, and said he could hear what we were saying. I 
ventured to remark that it did not matter very much, for 
we were in an isolated wing of the building, and no one 
else was near. The secretary stepped on tip-toe across the 
room, and flipped up the slats of the jalousie. Two of the 
red-coated myrmidons who pervade the households of the 
exalted in India had their ears glued to the blind. They 
were supposed not to understand English, but who shall 
say ? If " Lord Sahibs " do not escape eavesdropping, it 
is not surprising that in the laxer atmosphere of the native 

•201 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

states everything that occurs soon becomes public property 
and is carried to the great cities. 

It would be idle to pretend, therefore, that the more 
confidential features of Lord Curzon's relations with the 
native states, as well as those of the Viceroys who came 
before and after him, are not common knowledge. India 
knows very well how certain intricate questions of succes- 
sion were settled, who were privately deprived of their 
powers for a space, who were admonished for neglect of 
duties or extravagance or an undue fondness for the flesh- 
pots of Europe, who were truculent in claiming sovereign 
rights, who gave a great deal of trouble, and who gave no 
trouble at all. Not from lack of information, but because 
it is not seemly to examine topics which the Imperial autho- 
rities have veiled, I shall leave specific cases severely alone. 
There remain, however, certain issues which by reason of 
their magnitude and importance could not even at the time 
be regarded as really confidential. Of such are the conclu- 
sion of the Berar Agreement with the late Nizam of Hydera- 
bad, and the abdication of the late JSIaharajah Holkar of 
Indore, which may be treated without reserve. To these 
may be added the questions of policy raised by the Imperial 
Service Troops, the Imperial Cadet Corps, the Chiefs' Col- 
leges, the foreign travels of certain princes, and a number 
of other matters affecting many states in common. Beyond 
these, again, lies the general question of Lord Curzon's 
policy towards native states, which was emphatic and clearly 
defined. 

Novelists, even some very famous ones, have depicted 
the native states of India as haunts of mystery and intrigue, 
full of wild romance and lawless life, and not devoid of 
iniquity. The romance is still there, and often much of the 
intrigue, and, though not so commonly as is supposed, 
perhaps a little of the iniquity also ; but the mystery is fast 
vanishing. Among a collection of native states numbering 
considerably more than six hundred, all degrees of condition 

202 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

and environment are naturally still to be found. I have been 
conducted at an hour approaching midnight, by wild re- 
tainers bearing torches, along interminable corridors in a 
warren of a palace, to the dimly lighted audience-chamber 
of a prince who interrupted our talk in order to withdraw 
for prayer ; but then I have been rescued at a lonely railway 
junction by a fairy prince with the dress and language of 
an Englishman, who appeared from nowhere in particular 
in a private saloon carriage with a four-post bedstead. I 
have sat and waited in a far-off state, while my vigilant 
companions sought to restrain the women-folk of a dying 
prince from surreptitiously administering powdered diamonds 
to the moribund patient in the vain hope of cure ; but then 
I have conversed with an Indian ruler who possessed a 
British medical degree, earned by hard study, and who com- 
bined the gravity of Harley Street with the dignity of minor 
kingship. I have rested by the wayside in the wilds, while 
the driver of a princely carriage tied up the shaky con- 
veyance with string, after the fashion of the East ; but then 
I have been whirled through a native state in the newest 
and fastest of six-cylinder motor-cars. Native states are in 
many patterns, and Indian princes likewise. 

Even the most progressive native states have an old- 
"world charm about them, of which the visitor is conscious 
as soon as the borders of British territory are crossed. Allow- 
ing for the differences of the Orient, they are, T suppose, 
very much what some of the smaller German states must 
have been a hundred years ago. jNIost of them are now 
adequately administered, and if the standard of efficiency is 
often lower than in British India, it usually satisfies the 
desires, though perhaps not the needs of the people. There 
can be no doubt, I think, that the majority of the dwellers 
in native states prefer to remain as they are, rather than 
come under direct British control. The feeling is almost 
invariably due to personal loyalty to the chief, for I have 
found the people in native states generally disposed to say 

'203 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

that British India is better administered, and that the British 
standard of public morality is higher. " I know I don't govern 
as well as your people would do," said a jovial Maharajah to 
me once, " but my subjects would rather see me come through 
the streets of my capital on an elephant than salaam to 
a Collector in his buggy." Elephants are rare nowadays, 
even in the capitals of native states, but the spirit to which 
the Maharajah alluded remains as strong as ever. Yet it is 
not quite the old spirit of allegiance which Tod described so 
vividly in his " Rajasthan." The vague unrest, the disposi- 
tion to question constituted authority, which has swept over 
India in recent years, has not left the native states un- 
touched. JMany a watchful prince and experienced Dewan 
have detected changes in the demeanour of their people. 
They find them as respectful as ever, but more disposed to 
stand upon their rights and less willing to accept autocratic 
decisions in blind compliance with their ruler's nod. The 
Maharajahs are no longer demigods to their subjects. 

To do them justice, they do not want to be demigods. 
The majority of Indian princes are genuinely anxious to 
govern their states well, and to bring them more into line 
with the good administration of British India. The old 
stories of fierce brutality or grinding oppression or reckless 
extravagance or unbridled excess have comparatively few 
modern counterparts. Examples still exist, and when they 
occur they generally create a scandal of exaggerated dimen- 
sions ; but they are not typical, and the heavy hand of 
Viceregal displeasure soon falls upon the offenders. Nor is 
it fair or true to suggest that the rulers of native states 
build hospitals and maintain schools and colleges, and spend 
their surplus revenues on public works, for no other purpose 
than to placate an exacting Resident or to attract the 
discerning eye of a Viceroy on tour. No doubt they did 
these things in the early days, and cases are not unknown 
to-day ; but very many princes take a justifiable pride in the 
public institutions of their states. I have on several occa- 

204 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

sions, for instance, found the hospitals and dispensaries of a 
native state far better equipped with apphances and medical 
stores, and even better staffed with doctors and nurses, than 
similar institutions in adjacent British districts. In one 
respect native states have a common and rather amusing 
peculiarity ; for it is rare to visit a state without being 
invited solemnly to perambulate the well-kept jail. The 
criminal in a native state is often better cared for than in 
British India. 

The popular English conception of the princes of India 
stands in need of revision. The Indian Maharajah does not 
sit down to breakfast covered with diamonds and rubies, 
and except on state occasions is often conspicuous for the 
extreme simplicity of his dress. He does not build palaces 
by the dozen, or order motor-cars by the score ; for every 
case of wilful extravagance on the part of an Indian ruler, 
I think I could name half a dozen where personal expen- 
diture is limited almost to frugality. The princes should 
not be judged by their occasional lavishness when they visit 
Europe. They are then upon a holiday, and like humbler 
folk are wont at such times to spend money readily. They 
do not, as a rule, marry with ardent enthusiasm at frequent 
intervals, though there are exceptions. They mingle with 
their people far more freely than the minor European 
princes. I have often been struck by the almost democratic 
relations subsisting between the prince and his subjects in 
many native states. A parallel can be found in Russia, 
which, despite the barriers raised by Terrorism, is in some 
ways the most democratic country in Europe. It may 
further be said, most emphatically, that the private lives of 
the princes and chiefs of India will bear comparison with 
those of any corresponding body of men in high place 
anywhere in the world. They include in their numbers the 
normal proportion of black sheep, but it is extremely unjust 
that erroneous conclusions should be drawn from the 
aberrations of a few among them. 

205 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

The English conception of the political condition and 
standing of the princes of India is often equally inaccurate. 
Though many of them have a long lineage, most of their 
states are comparatively modern. Some of the most 
powerful of the Maharajahs are sprung from men who only 
gained land and fame after the British reached India. Their 
ancestors obtained their possessions by conquest, just as we 
did ourselves ; or they were satraps who revolted against a 
distant overlord, and made themselves rulers of the provinces 
they were sent to govern. They are often aliens, having no 
intimate ties of race with their subjects ; and many a native 
state owes its continued existence and security solely to the 
protecting arm of the British. In fact, Great Britain's 
strongest moral claim to sovereignty over the native states 
is that she has been, in the truest sense of the word, their 
preserver. The obligations incurred are, however, mutual 
to this degree, that British rule tends to depend more than 
ever upon the loyal support and allegiance of the native 
states. The interests of the Sovereign Power and of the 
princes and chiefs grow more nearly identical as the years 
pass. Both are concerned to preserve the existing system, 
because both realise that failure to resist the enemies of order 
and good government might plunge them into common ruin. 
There are very few native states, as at present constituted, 
which could be expected to survive the disappearance of 
British rule. On the other hand, the generous loyalty of 
the princes and chiefs to the British Crown is a solid factor 
which helps materially to preserve stability at a time when 
such assurances are of the utmost value. The Viceroy and 
the Government of India have no more imperative duty 
than that of maintaining good relations with the native 
states. 

It is, however, a duty beset by many difficulties. The 
control of Indian rulers who fail to perform the duties they 
owe to their Sovereign, to their people, and to themselves, 
is a delicate business requiring constant tact and great 

•206 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

restraint. There are other difficulties which, though 
technical, are hardly less serious. The relations of the 
Sovereign Power with the native states are in many cases 
largely governed by treaties and despatches, some of which 
are more than a century old. During the gradual extension 
and consolidation of British control, these relations under- 
went development and modification. Expressions and 
phrases, and even undertakings, were inserted in some of 
the earlier treaties which have small practical application to 
present conditions. In venerable treaties with maritime 
states, I have found special injunctions prohibiting chiefs 
from entering into communication with America, or from 
sheltering Americans and their ships ; but though such 
clauses have now only an historical interest, a very instant 
problem is presented by definitions of alliance and relative 
sovereignty which find little actual currency in modern 
practice. The treaties endure, and the states are apt to 
interpret them most literally ; and the phraseology of the 
documents varies to such a degree that it would puzzle the 
pundits of constitutional law to reduce them to a common 
denominator. To add to the confusion, there are some 
states with which the Sovereign Power has no treaties at 
all. In others the situation is complicated because the chief 
is himself the overlord of feudatories who exercise varying 
degrees of territorial jurisdiction within their own estates. 
Any one who has been compelled to investigate the 
respective powers and privileges of the Rao of Cutch and 
his Bhayats, as it fell to my lot to do upon the spot, will 
appreciate the intricacies of the internal polity of some 
native states. 

The exact status of the princes and chiefs, and the 
niceties of their relations with the Sovereign Power, are 
thus tinged with a vagueness about which experts still 
dispute, and regarding which I do not presume to offer an 
opinion. The very terminology used in this connection is a 
constant subject of argument ; and it may be useful to 

207 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

mention that, in the view of some in whose judgment 
reliance can be placed, the words " ally," " suzerainty," 
" feudatory," and " federal relationship," are all inapplicable 
to the relations between the native states and the Crown. 
It has even been argued that the word " sovereignty " should 
not be applied to the powers of a ruling chief, though 
Sir William Lee Warner, whose authority in such matters 
is generally recognised, takes a contrary view. 

I will only say that I think there is an urgent need 
for greater clarity and uniformity of definition, not only 
in the interests of the Paramount Power, but still more 
in the interests of the princes and chiefs themselves. At 
present some among them, in all good faith, profess a 
conception of their own independence, with concomitant 
pretensions to regal honours, which are clearly unfounded. 
They use alike the language and the trappings of royalty. 
They speak of their " thrones " and of their " royal family " ; 
and I have been presented to a youth, the heir to a few 
square miles of territory, who was described to me as " the 
Heir- Apparent." I have even heard of a case where the 
Tudor Crown was figured upon table-linen and crockery, 
though it did not come under my personal notice. These 
tendencies are intensified by the indiscretions of English 
society, due to blank ignorance ; and they are further 
encouraged by the apparent reluctance of the India Office 
and the Government of India to deal with a very awkward 
question. Many people have heard of the famous Viceregal 
note which disposed of a formidable file of papers dealing 
with a case of assumption of royal symbols. It is said to 
have consisted of two words : *' Drop it." But these things 
are not trifles in the East, and should not be " dropped." If 
disregarded they may lead ultimately to more serious issues. 
They require definite treatment and final decision ; and it 
may be hoped that if the whole problem is considered afresh, 
the privileges and titles of the younger sons of Indian rulers, 
and of the offspring of younger sons, will receive special 

208 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

attention. The limited dignity of younger sons is well 
understood in India, but England has a weakness for 
"princes," and the visits of cadets of the smaller ruling 
families are occasionally attended by results which are either 
absurd or unfortunate. 

Lord Curzon held very frank opinions upon the subjects 
I have been discussing, and took many opportunities of 
enunciating his views. Were I to quote the whole of his 
pronouncements upon the native states and their rulers, they 
would occupy no inconsiderable portion of this book. At 
different times, in the course of his long V^iceroyalty, he 
discussed in public speeches every important aspect of native 
state questions. Among these numerous discourses, a quo- 
tation may be taken from his speech at the Investiture of 
the young Nawab of Bahawalpur, because it best illustrates 
Lord Curzon's conception of the position and the duties of 
Indian princes and chiefs. He said, on November 12, 1903 : 

" When the British Crown, through the Viceroy, and the 
Indian princes, in the person of one of their number, are 
brought together on an occasion of so much importance as 
an installation ceremony, it is not unnatural that we should 
reflect for a moment on the nature of the ties that are 
responsible for this association. They are peculiar and 
significant ; and, so far as I know, they have no parallel in 
any other country in the world. The political system of 
India is neither Feudalism nor Federation ; it is embodied 
in no Constitution, it does not always rest upon Treaty, and 
it bears no resemblance to a League. It represents a series 
of relationships that have grown up between the Crown and 
the Indian princes under widely differing conditions, but 
which in process of time have gradually conformed to a 
single type. The sovereignty of the Crown is everywhere 
unchallenged. It has itself laid down the limitations of its 
own prerogative. Conversely the duties and the service of 
the states are implicitly recognised, and as a rule faithfully 
discharged. It is this happy blend of authority with free 
will, of sentiment with self-interest, of duties with rights, 

209 o 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

that distinguishes the Indian Empire under the British 
Crown from any other dominion of which we read in history. 
The Hnks that hold it together are not iron fetters that have 
been forged for the w^eak by the strong ; neither are they 
artificial coupHngs that will snap asunder the moment that 
any unusual strain is placed upon them ; but they are silken 
strands that have been woven into a strong cable by the 
mutual instincts of pride and duty, of self-sacrifice and 
esteem. 

" It is scarcely possible to imagine circumstances more 
different than those of the Indian chiefs now from what 
they were at the time when Queen Victoria came to the 
throne. Then they were suspicious of each other, mis- 
trustful of the Paramount Power, distracted with personal 
intrigues and jealousies, indifferent or selfish in their 
administration, and unconscious of any wider duty or 
Imperial aim. Now their sympathies have expanded with 
their knowledge, and their sense of responsibihty with the 
degree of confidence reposed in them. They recognise their 
obUgations to their own states, and their duty to the 
Imperial throne. The British Crown is no longer an 
impersonal abstraction, but a concrete and inspiring force. 
They have become figures on a great stage instead of actors 
in petty parts. 

" In my view, as this process has gone on, the princes have 
gained in prestige instead of losing it. Their rank is not 
diminished, but their privileges have become more secure. 
They have to do more for the protection that they enjoy, 
but they also derive more from it ; for they are no longer 
detached appendages of Empire, but its participators and 
instruments. They have ceased to be the architectural 
adornments of the Imperial edifice, and have become the 
pillars that help to sustain the main roof." 

A month later, at Ulwar, Lord Curzon further enlarged 
upon the reciprocal relations of the British Crown and the 
Indian princes, saying : 

"The Crown, through its representative, recognises its 
double duty of protection and self-restraint — of protection, 

210 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

because it has assumed the task of defending the state 
and chief against all foes and of promoting their joint 
interests by every means in its power ; of self-restraint, 
because the Paramount Power must be careful to abstain 
from any course calculated to promote its own interests 
at the expense of those of the state. For its part, the 
state, thus protected and secured, accepts the correspond- 
ing obligation to act in all things with loyalty to the 
Sovereign Power, to abstain from all acts injurious to the 
Government, and to conduct its own affairs with integrity 
and credit. 

" I sometimes think that there is no grander opportunity 
than that which opens out before a young Indian prince 
invested with powers of rule at the dawn of manhood. He 
is among his own people. He is very likely drawn, as is the 
Maharajah whom we are honouring to-day, from an ancient 
and illustrious race. Respect and reverence are his natural 
heritage, unless he is base enough or foolish enough to throw 
them away. He has, as a rule, ample means at his disposal, 
enough both to gratify any reasonable desire and to show 
charity and munificence to others. Subject to the control of 
the Sovereign Power, he enjoys very substantial authority, 
and can be a ruler in reality as well as in name. These are 
his private advantages. Then look at his public position. 
He is secure against rebellion inside the state or invasion 
from without. He need maintain no costly army, for his 
territories are defended for him ; he need fight no wars, 
except those in which he joins voluntarily in the cause of 
the Empire. His state benefits from the railways and 
public works, the postal system, the fiscal system, and the 
currency system of the Supreme Government. He can 
appeal to its officers for guidance, to its practice for instruc- 
tion, to its exchequer for financial assistance, to its head for 
encouragement and counsel. He is surrounded by every 
condition that should make life pleasant, and yet make it a 
duty." 

To these extracts may be added a passage from an 
address delivered by the Viceroy to the Chiefs of Kathiawar in 
Durbar at Rajkote on November 6, 1900, when he explained 

211 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

his views upon the duties devolving on native states in these 
impressive words : 

" 1 am a firm believer in the policy which has guaranteed 
the integrity, has ensured the succession, and has built up 
the fortunes of the native states. I regard the advantage 
accruing from the secure existence of those states as mutual. 
In the case of the chiefs and the states it is obvious, since 
old families and traditions are thereby preserved, a link is 
maintained with the past that is greatly cherished by the 
people, and an opening is given for the employment of 
native talent which the British system does not always or 
equally provide. But to us also the gain is indubitable, 
since the strain of Government is thereby lessened, full scope 
is provided for the exercise of energies that might otherwise 
be lost to Government, the perils of excessive uniformity 
and undue centralisation are avoided, and greater adminis- 
trative flexibility ensues. So long as these views are held — 
and I doubt if any of my successors will ever repudiate 
them — the native ^states should find in the consciousness of 
their security a stimulus to energy and to well doing. They 
should fortify the sympathies of Government by deserving 
them. To weaken this support would be to commit a suicidal 
crime. 

" If the native states, however, are to accept this 
standard it is obvious that they must keep pace with the 
age. They cannot dawdle behind, and act as a drag upon 
an inevitable progress. They are links in the chain of 
Imperial admmistration. It would never do for the British 
links to be strong and the native links weak, or vice versa. 
As the chain goes on lengthening, and the strain put upon 
every part of it increases, so is uniformity of quality and 
fibre essential. Otherwise the unsound links will snap. I, 
therefore, think, and I lose no opportunity of impressing 
upon the Indian chiefs, that a very clear and positive duty 
devolves upon them. It is not limited to the perpetuation 
of their dynasties or the maintenance of their raj. They 
must not rest content with keeping things going in their 
time. Their duty is one, not of passive acceptance of an 
established place in tlie Imperial system, but of active and 

212 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

vigorous co-operation in the discharge of its onerous 
responsibiHties. When wrong things go on in British 
India, the hght of public criticism beats fiercely upon the 
offending person or spot. Native states have no right to 
claim any immunity from the same process. It is no 
defence to say that the standards there are lower, and that, 
as censors, we must be less exacting. That would be an 
admission of the inferiority of the part played by the states 
in the Imperial scheme, whereas the whole of my contention 
rests upon its equality, and the whole of my desire is to 
make it endure." 

I have thought it best to give Lord Curzon's own words, 
rather than to render his views in a halting paraphrase. In 
the closing sentences of the last passage quoted, will be found 
the heart of his policy towards the native states. He 
claimed for them a high place in the fabric of the Indian 
Empire, and was not willing that they should fall below it. 
The standard he prescribed was not always attained, and 
when a Maharajah failed to fulfil the injunctions laid upon 
him, he was in danger of admonition. A very great 
diversity of opinion exists, even among experienced 
political officers, regarding the merits of Lord Curzon's 
policy in this respect. All recognise its exalted purpose ; 
some are inclined to doubt its expediency. It is argued 
against it that there is no real need to bring the states 
rigidly into line with British India in administrative effi- 
ciency ; that a lower standard does suffice in native state 
territory, and that we must be less exacting ; and that 
provided a ruler does not oppress his subjects, or fail to do 
justice between them, or make his life a public scandal, we 
can very well leave him alone. To some extent these 
contentions spring, I think, from that spirit of weariness, 
the growth of which among British officials in India has 
been noticeable in recent years. As Great Britain gets to 
closer quarters with her task, its magnitude appals many of 
the weaker hearts. It is no uncommon thing to hear a 

213 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

civilian half-way through his service declare that the work 
has gi'own beyond human endurance, and that the best 
remedy is to divide up all India on the native state pattern. 
Such sentiments would have filled Lord Curzon with indig- 
nation. His whole Viceroyalty was one long protest against 
the laggards and the languid. 

Without endorsing the extreme view that the ordinary 
administration of the native states calls for very little 
interference from the British Government, it is still possible 
to hold that Lord Curzon, in liis anxiety to emphasise the 
duties of partnership, was sometimes led to expect too much. 
His intense interest in the internal affairs of the states was 
not always relished by the chiefs, though it had the effect of 
producing a marked increase of efficiency in states where 
improvement had become very necessary. Since his 
departure, the pendulum has perhaps swung too far the 
other way. Lord Minto, in a speech at Udaipur in 1909, 
expounded principles which would probably have been 
expressed differently by Lord Curzon. Lord JNIinto said he 
had always been opposed to anything like pressure upon 
Durbars with a view to introducing British methods of 
administration. He preferred that reforms should emanate 
from Durbars themselves, and "grow up in harmony with 
the traditions of the states." Administrative efficiency was 
not the only object to aim at. Though abuses must as far 
as possible be corrected, political officers would do wisely to 
accept the general system of administration to which the 
chief and his people had been accustomed. The methods 
sanctioned by tradition in the states were usually well- 
adapted to the needs of the ruler and his people. " The 
loyalty of the latter to the former was generally a personal 
loyalty which administrative efficiency, if carried out on lines 
unsuited to local conditions, would tend to impair." 

Lord Minto's speech was somewhat indiscreetly hailed in 
the Press as " amounting to a reversal of Lord Curzon's 
policy," and it has been interpreted since with a liberality 

214 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

which is probably beyond the intention of the speaker. I 
am not at all sure that the administrative traditions of the 
native states are in all respects worthy of preservation. 
Judging by the records of the past, they are not. Nor does 
it seem likely that a wise increase of efficiency would impair 
the loyalty of the people towards their chiefs. If that argu- 
ment is to be accepted literally, as is now the case in some 
states, there will be no further improvement at all. The 
best solution probably lies in a course which will make some- 
what less exacting demands than Lord Curzon prescribed, 
without lapsing into the attitude of passivity which I^ord 
Minto appeared to prefer. 

Nevertheless, I have a good deal of sympathy for the 
line of thought which evidently inspired Lord Minto's 
speech at Uduipur. The time has come when we must be 
more careful than ever when intervening in the purely in- 
ternal affairs of native states. We cannot, on the one hand, 
announce our intention of giving greater liberty to the people 
of British India, and on the other, turn the screw upon the 
Indian princes. Political officers must be content to watch 
and advise, and to check when necessary, and must not seek 
to control. The issue at Simla of orders intended to be of 
general application is specially to be deprecated. There are 
so many variations in the native states, and their degree of 
advancement fluctuates so widely, that each problem should 
be treated separately. General orders may suit British 
India very well, but they should be sparingly applied to the 
states. In the relations with native states personality counts 
more than any other factor ; and progress can still be best 
achieved through the personal influence of political officers, 
working in friendly confidence with the chiefs. There is 
nothing in these sentiments at variance with the policy which 
Lord Curzon laid down. He, too, wanted reforms to 
emanate from the Durbars themselves, and his main purpose 
was to encourage the chiefs to perform their own duties^ 
turning only to political officers for friendly advice. 

215 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

In one respect the attitude of the Government of India 
towards native states requires frank comment, I have 
shown, in this rough sketch of the position, that in the case 
of many of the states the rights of the British Government 
are to some extent determined by treaties, which are occa- 
sionally antiquated. The development of the British system 
has rendered the provisions of some of these treaties a little 
irksome, and there are times when they block the comple- 
tion of Government projects. New Departments arise, and 
inaugurate new policies which pay very little regard to the 
prescriptive rights of native states. A growing corollary of 
the theory of Imperial partnership seems to be that the 
Government is not necessarily bound by treaties which are 
considered obsolete ; or, on occasion, the Government will 
only admit the validity of treaties with great reluctance, 
after compelling native states to fight in defence of treaty 
rights which ought to have been recognised without demur ; 
or, to mention another situation which sometimes arises, the 
Government will shelter themselves behind the letter of a 
clause, taking the possibly disputable opinion of their law 
officers as final, and will pay no regard to the manifest spirit 
in which the treaty was originally framed. In all such con- 
troversies the states fight at a severe disadvantage. 

The growth of such an attitude on the part of the 
Government cannot be too strongly deprecated. All treaties 
with native states, unless abrogated by mutual consent, 
should be binding on both parties, and there should be no 
attempt by departmental officials to evade them by indirect 
methods. To Ministers with a policy these treaties may seem 
of little moment, but to the states they are sacred. At any 
cost they should be upheld. The rounding off of a great 
scheme may seem urgently desirable, and the opposition of 
a state may seem frivolous ; but a far greater principle is 
really at stake, and that is the honour of Great Britain. The 
one guiding policy when such issues arise is to keep faith 
with the native states at any sacrifice. The tendencies to 

21C 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

which I have referred are not to be specially associated with 
any particular Viceroyalty, and certainly not with that of 
Lord Curzon, more than with those who preceded or came 
after him. It may be noted as an omission, however, that 
in his many reviews of the mutual obligations of the 
Sovereign Power and the states, he did not lay sufficient 
stress upon that necessity for either observing written 
engagements or terminating them, which should have 
found emphatic mention in any examination of this 
complex question. 

One great service was rendered by Lord Curzon to the 
princes and chiefs of India, greater, perhaps, than they 
themselves realise. He brought them out of comparative 
seclusion, and by encouraging closer intimacy with the 
Government, and with each other, produced among them 
a more vivid consciousness of the great part they have to 
play in the wider arena of Indian affairs. While he resisted 
the comfortable doctrine that it does not matter very much 
to the Paramount Power how the native states are adminis- 
tered, he was far more insistent in declaring that the chiefs 
could not afford to keep aloof from the larger destinies of 
India. In Sir William Lee- Warner's book on the native 
states there is a chapter entitled, " The Policy of Subor- 
dinate Isolation." The phrase is used to cover a particular 
series of historical events, but it is not inapplicable to the 
relations between the Government and the princes in quite 
recent times. Many of the JNIaharajahs approved of the 
tendency thus implied, and held that if they looked after 
their own states they were sufficiently occupied. They 
deliberately disclaimed interest in the politics of the Indian 
Empire. Lord Curzon, far more than any other Viceroy, 
broke down the tendency to isolation, brought the Maha- 
rajahs into more frequent intercourse with the heads of the 
British Administration, and made them feel that they were 
active partners in a great Imperial organisation. One step 
in this direction was the purchase of Hastings House, a 

217 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

spacious Calcutta mansion in which the princes could be 
entertained as the guests of the State. 

Despite his occasional admonitions, Lord Curzon was 
one of the best friends the princes of India ever had. He 
lost no opportunity of developing among them the knowledge 
that the Viceroy was not merely the representative of their 
Sovereign, but one to whom they could turn for counsel in 
difficulty, and help in time of need. He encouraged them 
to lay their troubles before him in the intimacy of private 
intercourse, and his unwearying solicitude for their personal 
welfare was deeply appreciated. To the same end, he visited 
over forty of the states, in some of which no Viceroy had 
ever before set foot. That he became the confidant of many 
of the Maharajahs, and made friendships among them which 
still endure, is within my own knowledge. No Governor- 
General has ever had more commanding influence among 
the princes and chiefs than Lord Curzon enjoyed in the 
closing years of his residence in India. They respected his 
great strength of character, but they prized his friendship 
still more. 

An important feature of Lord Curzon's native state 
policy was his endeavour to associate the princes of India 
more closely and uniformly with the responsibilities of 
Imperial defence. Formerly some of the states maintained 
fairly large irregular armies, though the troops were deficient 
in equipment and training, and of small fighting value. In 
recent decades the native state armies have greatly diminished 
in numbers. At present they are collectively said to be 
about 93,000 strong, but all are armed with smooth-bore 
muskets, and the batteries have smooth-bore guns. During 
the Viceroyalty of liOrd Dufferin, when war seemed imminent 
on the frontier, the princes placed their resources at the 
disposal of the Government. Out of this generous offer 
arose Lord Dufferin's scheme of Imperial Service troops, 
consisting of forces maintained by the princes, trained and 
armed like the Native Army, inspected by British officers, 

218 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

and available for Imperial service " when placed at the 
disposal of the British Government by their rulers." Lord 
DufFerin, in armouncing the scheme, said : " It is hoped 
that . . . while each force will remain a purely state force 
recruited in the territories of its chief and serving within 
them, the troops composing it will gradually be made so 
efficient as to enable the Imperial Government to use them 
as part of its available resources to meet any external 
danger." The conditions devised by Lord DufFerin have an 
important bearing on the present position. 

The Imperial Service troops number about 18,000, 
and include cavalry 7100, artillery 421, sappers 570, infantry 
9384, camel corps 665, and six transport corps and two 
signalling units. Many of the important native states 
maintam Imperial Service troops, but there are omissions, 
the most conspicuous of which is Baroda. They have done 
good service in warfare, and Lord Curzon sent detachments 
of them to China and Somaliland. Considering, however, 
that the native states represent one-third of the area and 
one-fifth of the population of British India, it cannot be said 
that the Imperial Service troops constitute an adequate 
contribution towards Imperial defence. An unforeseen 
difficulty is that Lord DufFerin's provisions are incompatible 
with modern military experience. Isolated units scattered 
over the face of the land can never be fully trained for the 
requirements of war. They need concentration in larger 
garrisons. On the other hand, the original estimate of the 
cost to the states has been considerably exceeded, because 
well-equipped troops are more expensive than they used 
to be. 

Lord Curzon saw that the Imperial Service scheme was 
unequal, and therefore unsatisfactory, but he took no 
definite action until the Aga Khan brought the question 
into prominence by a speech in the Imperial Legislative 
Council in 1903. The Aga Khan suggested that the 
Imperial Service troops should be placed under the control 

219 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of the Commander-in-Chief, and supervised by British 
officers ; that they should wear the uniforms of their state 
and carry the colours of their chiefs ; that the irregular 
armed forces should be replaced by Imperial Service troops ; 
and, though the suggestion was not very precise, that there 
should be *' a system of recruiting according to population 
or territorial extent." Lord Curzon afterwards consulted 
the chiefs in pursuance of these suggestions. His letter was 
not made public, but its purport was that each state might 
contribute towards Imperial defence to the extent of a fixed 
proportion of its revenue. The contribution was to be in 
the shape of troops, and not cash ; but the desirability of 
a better system of training, and of periods of peace service 
with the regular Army outside the borders of the state, was 
indicated. 

I have always understood that while most of the 
responses were, in terms, favourable, and while many of the 
chiefs were willing to acknowledge the obligation of a more 
adequate and more equal contribution to Imperial defence, 
the replies gave evidence of uneasiness regarding the possible 
ultimate development of the principle of contributing a fixed 
proportion of revenue. A considerable number of chiefs, 
and those by no means of the least importance, were in 
reality frankly unfavourable to the scheme, which they 
regarded with real alarm. They held that it took no suffi- 
cient account of the diversity of the relations and treaty 
obligations subsisting between the States and the Para- 
mount Power, and urged that it was subversive of the basis 
of the original scheme of Imperial Service troops. 

The arguments of some of those who opposed the scheme, 
as placed before me at the time, were to this effisct ; " The 
essence of Lord Duffisrin's scheme was that it should be 
voluntary. We were to give what we liked, and only if we 
chose to do so. Now you want us to give a fixed proportion 
of our revenue, but still you call it voluntary. In time another 
Viceroy will appear and say it ought to be compulsory. In 

220 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

the end, therefore, our loyal desire to help the Government 
will be made the excuse for a tax for defence. A fixed 
proportion of revenue will operate unequally. A rich state 
could pay a tenth with ease, but to a poor state, heavily in 
debt, that tenth would be a grave matter. We do not like 
to send our troops out of our states except for war. We 
know it is better to train in large bodies, and that a turn of 
peace service on the frontier would do our troops good. But 
we like to see our troops in our own capitals, and feel that 
they are ours. Once they are taken away, shall we ever see 
them again ? There will be another Commander-in-Chief, 
who will forget what Lord Kitchener has said, and we shall 
never see our troops any more. We shall hear a great deal 
about the requirements of the Army Staff, and the end of it 
all will be that our share in the Imperial Service movement 
will be the writing of an annual cheque in return for an 
annual compliment." 

I think these views were held, in part at least, by more 
states than ventured to give expression to them. The 
scheme was still under consideration when Lord Curzon left, 
and it has not had any practical result. Yet it cannot be 
supposed that the question of the obligation of the native 
states to undertake a larger share of Imperial defence can 
be left where it is. It should be added that in the speech I 
have quoted, the Aga Khan distinctly predicated a reduction 
of the Native Army of British India, corresponding to the 
increase of Imperial Service troops on the suggested new 
basis ; but I have never heard that this portion of his scheme 
was endorsed by the Government of India. 

The Imperial Cadet Corps, constituted in 1901 by Lord 
Curzon, under the sanction of King Edward, had another 
purpose, which was more important for its political results 
than for its military value. The corps consists of cadets of 
princely and noble houses, and was formed to give young 
men of rank an opportunity of training in their hereditary 
profession of arms, and of obtaining commissions in the 

221 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Army. Its summer quarters were established at Dehra 
Dun, and in winter it is attached to a camp of exercise 
in the plains. Several of the younger ruling chiefs joined 
the corps, which at present numbers under twenty. The 
course of instruction lasts two years, and there is an addi- 
tional period of one year for cadets desiring commissions 
in the Imperial Army. The corps has British officers. 
Some of the cadets have been appointed to the staffs of 
general officers, and others have received commissions in the 
Imperial Service troops. On ceremonial occasions they have 
furnished an extra bodyguard for the Viceroy, and their 
handsome uniforms of white and Star of India blue were 
conspicuous at the last Delhi Durbar. The corps has not in 
recent years received the attention it deserves, and it may 
be hoped that effi^rts will now be made to expand it. Lord 
Curzon opened the door for the admission of Indians of 
family to the higher ranks of the Army, and this door can 
never be closed. 

Probably no Viceroy ever gave so much earnest attention 
to native state questions as Lord Curzon, but in no respect 
was his solicitude more marked than in regard to the educa- 
tion of the chiefs. For manifold reasons, the scions of 
princely families in India cannot be sent to the ordinary 
educational institutions of the country, and the admirable 
chiefs' colleges at Rajkote, Ajmere, and Lahore were estab- 
lished to supply their needs. They are not public schools on 
the English pattern, and yet in many respects they are 
meant to foster the public school spirit. While every care 
is taken to provide a suitable course of instruction, the forma- 
tion of character is held to be of equal importance. Many 
of the present ruling chiefs of India were trained in these 
institutions. Lord Curzon, after inspecting all the colleges, 
came to the conclusion that they "had not won the entire 
confidence of the chiefs," and had not therefore " completely 
fulfilled the conception of their founders." He summoned 
a conference at Calcutta in January 1902, at which the 

222 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

question of the future of the chiefs' colleges was considered 
in careful detail. In his opening address to the conference, 
he formulated publicly his proposals for reform. 

He desired to make the training more practical, and 
therefore suggested considerable changes in the teaching 
staff and in the curriculum. He thought that the colleges 
were constituted, " not to prepare for examinations, but to 
prepare for life." He wished to preserve them frankly as 
seminaries for the aristocratic classes, but thought the train- 
ing should be varied in accordance with the future prospects 
of each pupil, so that whether he was intended for an officer, 
a landowner, an administrator, or a ruler, he would receive 
the education his prospective career required. He wanted, 
above all, to invoke the help and sympathy of the chiefs in 
greater measure, to induce them to discard their attitude of 
suspicion, and to make them feel that the colleges would 
render their sons and relatives better and more useful men. 

A scheme providing for many improvements w^as duly 
prepared, and in March 1904 another conference met at 
Ajmere, at which numerous details were settled. The most 
notable outcome of the revival of interest in the chiefs' colleges 
was a great increase in the number of pupils. The Ajmere 
College doubled its numbers within two years, though in that 
particular instance the growth was partly due to the advent 
of a new and popular Principal, Mv. C. W. Waddington. 
Several of the Maharajahs contributed handsomely to the 
cost of the scheme, and liberal aid was received from the 
Government. Feeder schools were established or resusci- 
tated in several native states. Finally, the Daly College at 
Indore, which had dwindled to the position of a feeder 
school, was raised to the dignity of a Rajkumar College by 
the enthusiasm and generosity of the Central India Chiefs. 
One of the closing events of Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty was 
the laying of the foundation stone of the new Daly Chiefs' 
College on November 4, 1905. He was bitterly disappointed 
when at the last moment illness prevented him from attend- 

223 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

ing, for he had regarded the Daly College, and the ardour 
with which the chiefs had set themselves to create it afresh 
on a splendid scale, as the crowning justification of his zeal 
for the better education of the aristocracy of India. In his 
absence the speech he had intended to deliver, which con- 
tained his farewell to the princes of India, was read by INIr. 
S. M. Eraser. 

Of the practical help he gave to the states in their 
administration there is no room to speak ; but it may be 
mentioned that the loans to native states during the famine 
of 1899-1900 amounted to over £1,800,000, exclusive of 
guarantees given for loans obtained in the open market. 
Among the many outstanding disputes which he settled, none 
was more prominent than his solution of the Berar question. 
For forty years the relations between the Government of 
India and Hyderabad, the premier native state, had been 
affected by the British occupation of the province of Berar. 
More than a hundred years ago, the British agreed to 
maintain a subsidiary force for the protection of the Nizam 
of Hyderabad, in return for a fixed payment. The Nizam 
consented to employ the force, afterwards known as the 
Hyderabad Contingent, together with his own irregular 
army, in the cause of the British in time of war. It rendered 
valuable service under Wellington at the decisive battle of 
Assaye, when the power of the INIahrattas was broken. In 
later years the Hyderabad payments for the Contingent fell 
into arrear. After various temporary arrangements had 
been made, the province of Berar, in Hyderabad territory, 
was "taken in trust" by the British, at first in 1853, but 
finally under a treaty of 1860. The gross annual revenue of 
Berar was at that time estimated at £213,000 (in all calcula- 
tions of currency throughout this book I have, for conve- 
nience, estimated the exchange value of the rupee at 1*. 4c?.). 
The arrangement was that all surplus revenue, after paying 
the cost of the Contingent and of the civil administration ot 
the province, should be handed over to the Nizam. 

224 



* 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

Berar became an important centre of cotton production, 
and its other crops grew more valuable, so that in due course 
it attained unexpected prosperity. In Lord Curzon's time 
its gross revenue had reached an annual total of £793,000. 
Only a modest proportion of this sum ever reached the 
Hyderabad Treasury in the shape of surplus. It was alleged 
by the Hyderabad Government, not without substantial 
reason, that the civil administration of Berar was unduly 
extravagant, and that, in particular, the sums spent on 
public works were excessive. The military arrangements 
were unsatisfactory to the British as well as distasteful to 
the Nizam. The Contingent had practically become part of 
the Imperial Army, and was no longer needed for the special 
defence of the State of Hyderabad ; yet under the terms of 
the treaty it had to be maintained as a separate military 
unit, and could not be cantoned outside the Nizam's terri- 
tories in time of peace. Its cost was greater than was 
justifiable, the limitations imposed upon its movements 
lessened its efficiency, and its military position was anomalous. 
Hyderabad was at the same time financially embarrassed, 
and the feeling that it did not receive its due share of the 
Berar revenues was a constant grievance. 

The Berar question remained an open sore until in 1902, 
after preliminary negotiations. Lord Curzon went personally 
to Hyderabad, and in a private interview with the Nizam came 
to an agreement which closed it for ever. The rendition of 
the province had become impossible, and no one saw that 
more clearly than the Nizam himself Over two million 
people had been under direct British control for nearly half 
a century, and had enjoyed the advantages of an administra- 
tion which was far in advance of that of their neighbours. 
I have said that in native states the people prefer the rule 
of their own chiefs ; but the converse is also true, as Lord 
Curzon pointed out at a meeting of the Royal Society of 
Arts in 1908. The inhabitants of Berar would have been 
dismayed at the prospect of reverting to Hyderabad rule. 

225 p 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

An alternative expedient was propounded by the N^iceroy, 
and accepted without reserve by the Nizam. The British 
Government leased Berar in perpetuity at an annual rent of 
£168,000. The Nizam's sovereignty over Berar was re- 
affirmed, and his flag was to be flown at Amraoti, the capital 
of the province, on his birthday during the lifetime of the 
late ruler. The Hyderabad Contingent was fully incor- 
porated in the Imperial Army, and released from the 
necessity of remaining in the Hyderabad dominions. The 
Nizam at the same time agreed to effect large reductions in 
his excessive and unnecessary irregular army, which have 
since been carried out. The Hyderabad State was heavily 
in debt to the British Government, and part of the rent was 
to be devoted towards liquidating these liabilities, but at no 
distant date the Nizam will come into possession of an 
annual income from Berar far exceeding anything he had 
ever received before. During the preceding forty years 
the Berar " surplus " had only shown an annual average of 
£58,000. 

The bargain was a very fair one, and did reasonable justice 
to both parties. It has been said that the Nizam was at a 
disadvantage in negotiating in privacy with so persuasive a 
diplomatist as I^ord Curzon, invested as he was with all the 
prestige of his high office. The contention does injustice both 
to the ability of the Nizam and to the forbearance of the 
Viceroy. The late Nizam, who died in August 1911, was a 
shrewd and capable ruler, extremely well conversant with the 
affairs of his state. He was as anxious as the Government of 
India to terminate the unhappy difference which had so long 
estranged them. I believe he was thoroughly satisfied with the 
settlement, and Sir David Barr, who was Resident at the time, 
stated in 1908 that his Highness had found it " entirely satis- 
factory." There can be no better authority, for Sir David Barr 
not only had much to do with the Berar negotiations, but he 
was instrumental in placing the relations between Hydera- 
bad and Simla on a far better footing, and he enjoyed the 

226 



I 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

confidence of the Nizam to an unusual degree. Tlie point 
in the Berar Agreement which perhaps weighed most with 
the Nizam was that his prestige was enhanced. The British 
Government remained in Berar, but only as his lessees. He 
had the further satisfaction of witnessing a reduction in the 
number of British troops in his territories. 

A further outcome of the Hyderabad interview was that, 
at Lord Curzon's request, Mr. Casson Walker, an able 
financial officer from the Punjab who had already arrived 
at the Nizam's capital, was entrusted with the task of 
rehabilitating the finances of the state. The resources of 
Hyderabad had been sadly depleted by famine expenditure, 
but still more by defective financial control. Mr. Casson 
Walker remained at his post for nine years, and only retired 
at the beginning of 1911. When he left, the whole financial 
administration had been reorganised, and such far-reaching 
economies had been effected that the cash reserves and 
securities of the state had been quadrupled. The result 
was achieved despite the fact that debt amounting to 
over £1,333,000 had been paid off, while the increased 
expenditure required by administrative reforms had been 
duly met. Hyderabad is now in a stronger financial 
position than it has ever been before, but there is still much 
room for internal development. The greatest needs of the 
state are roads and feeder railways. Mr. Casson Walker 
in his final report makes the remarkable statement that 
" there are not more than four or five roads in the interior 
of the Dominions which are passable all the year." Owing 
to the lack of roads, and still more of bridges and culverts, 
the peasantry cannot market their spare produce in time of 
plenty, while when scarcity prevails, the absence of transport 
facilities leaves them "at the mercy of the local money- 
lender, who uses to the full his opportunities of raising 
prices against the ryot." These disclosures may be 
commended to the attention of advocates of the policy of 
encouraging conformity to the traditions of native states. 

227 



y 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 



The traditional road of Hyderabad comes to a full-stop when 
it meets a stream or a gully. 

The neighbouring state of Indore was under a cloud 
before Lord Curzon became Viceroy. The Maharajah 
Holkar had for many years been prone to acts of 
eccentricity, which had developed into serious injustice 
towards some among his subjects, and ultimately his whole 
government fell into confusion. The real cause of all the 
trouble was mental excitability, but it was plain that he 
was unfitted for the control of an important and populous 
state. In January 1903 he was permitted to abdicate, and 
his youthful son was installed in his stead, under the 
guidance of a Council of Regency. It may allay rumours 
still occasionally heard if I state definitely that the Maharajah 
abdicated by his own desire, and that permission was only 
accorded after the request had been several times preferred. 
A touching feature of the case was that he decided to appear 
for the last time as a ruler at the Delhi Durbar, where 1 
met him, a genial man of fine presence and much distinction. 
Few people who saw him placidly taking snapshots in the 
Durbar arena on that New Year's morning had any idea 
that he was about to strip himself of his princely powers. 
One who watched him a few days later in open Durbar 
gravely salute his little son as his successor and prince, told 
me that in the moment of his abdication Holkar comported 
himself with such fine dignity that he won back in esteem 
much that he had lost. Such scenes are sometimes witnessed 
on the stage, but seldom in real life. He was happier in 
retirement, and lived for some years afterwards. 

The restoration of powers to the Maharajah of Kashmir 
in 1905 was one of the last public acts performed by Lord 
Curzon in India, and the prince was so moved by the 
kindness he experienced at the hands of the Viceroy on that 
occasion that he travelled a thousand miles to take leave of 
him on the quay. In 1889 the powers of the Maharajah 
had been withdrawn from him at his own request, and 

228 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

placed in the hands of a council which included his brothers. 
Lord Curzon held a special Durbar at Jammu for the 
restoration ceremony, and it was noted that no such 
ceremony had been held in India before. In the course of 
his speech the Viceroy took occasion to rebut the rumours 
that the Vale of Kashmir was about to be annexed by the 
Government of India, or that special conditions permitting 
Europeans to acquire property in the state had been imposed. 
By reason of its temperate climate and its natural beauty, 
Kashmir has come to be regarded as a Naboth's vineyard by 
some Englishmen. Within its borders a white race could 
rear children, and thus, it is argued, the problem of holding 
India could be greatly simplified. Lord Curzon's speech at 
Jammu finally disposed of these covetous tendencies. 

The circular letter of 1900, requiring princes and chiefs to 
apply for leave to travel abroad, needs only passing mention. 
It obtained a publicity which, I believe, was never intended, 
and was the object of a good deal of criticism arising partly 
from lack of knowledge of the facts, and partly from the 
indiscreetly literal manner in which the letter was interpreted 
by some political officers. It was not addressed to any 
particular rulers, but was circulated to all. I have already 
said I think circular letters to native states are frequently 
unwise ; and in this instance political officers, fearful of 
responsibility, were not content with communicating the 
spirit of the order, as was undoubtedly meant. But the 
purpose of the letter itself was entirely seemly. While 
some princes never leave India, and others rarely cross the 
borders of their states, a few were in the habit of departing 
on long foreign tours at frequent intervals. Occasionally 
these tours were made the occasion for reckless extravagance 
in expenditure, and in such cases the ultimate suffisrers were 
the ruler's own subjects, who had to pay. The Government 
of India have never discouraged the natural desire of the 
rulers of native states to see the world, but they held that 
foreign journeys should be undertaken with some regard to 

229 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the resources of a state, and that a ruler should not be so 
much abroad as to neglect the administration of his own 
territories. The insistence upon obtaining sanction was 
meant to provide some check upon princely wanderings. 
No new principle was involved, and the circular letter had 
a good effect, though the intentions which inspired it have 
been somewhat in abeyance in more recent years. 

Lord Curzon was not unmindful of the fact that, notwith- 
standing all his efforts to associate the princes and chiefs 
more closely with the Imperial affairs of India, his purpose 
would not be fully achieved unless some machinery was 
provided for bringing them collectively and periodically 
into touch and co-operation with the Government. Some 
such design was in the mind of Lord Lytton, when before 
the Delhi Durbar of 1877 he proposed the formation of an 
Indian Privy Council, for which sanction was refused by 
the home authorities. Lord Curzon's plan was never made 
public ; but it was understood that it provided for the 
constitution of a selected body of princes, who were to deal 
only with certain specified matters in which they were 
concerned. It was essentially limited and tentative, though 
it contained the germ of far greater things. It seems to have 
become merged in Lord IMinto's much larger scheme for 
an Imperial Advisory Council for consultative purposes, 
which was to include both ruling princes and territorial 
magnates drawn from British India. Lord Minto's scheme 
was submitted to the Secretary of State in 1907, but it got 
no further. 

One of the difficulties which retard the realisation of 
these projects is the hesitation of the princes and chiefs 
themselves. Not only their claims to precedence, but 
their dislike of innovations, and their fears lest in some 
unforeseen way their powers may be curtailed, block the 
way. Yet some solution must be found, for the develop- 
ment of India into a great Empire with world-wide 
interests, in which its most prominent men have 

230 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

no practical voice, is not a position which can for ever 
continue. Nor can Great Britain from time to time enlarge 
the liberties of the peoples of British India without regard 
to the attitude of the native states. Every fresh concession 
which gives the non-official representatives of British India 
a larger share in deciding great Imperial questions, which 
affect the native states in equal measure, must in the end 
cause resentment. Able and ambitious Maharajahs will not 
for ever be content to see their destinies pass more largely 
into the control of the men who sit upon the Imperial 
Council, while they themselves are excluded. A serious 
defect of Lord Morley's policy while he was Secretary of 
State for India was that in all he said and did, he spoke and 
acted as though the native states did not exist. They 
seemed beyond the purview of his thought. His attitude 
resembled that taken up by the leaders of the Indian 
National Congress. When I asked Mr. Surendra Nath 
Banerjee what he proposed to do with India's princes when 
he had parliaments in every province and a central Assembly 
on the banks of the Hooghly, he repUed placidly : " They 
must remain outside." The disciples of the Congress leave 
the native states severely alone ; yet there are 71,000,000 
people in India who are not under British administrative 
control. 

I do not foresee the day when the great Maharajahs will 
sit supine within their palaces while the fate of India passes 
into the hands of lawyers and schoolmasters, even though 
the new legislators have a Viceroy and a phalanx of British 
officials at their back ; nor do I discern the time when they 
will relinquish their ancient powers and prerogatives, and 
entrusting their fortunes to representative assemblies on the 
Western model, permit themselves to sink to the level 
of superior zemindai^s. The " Assemblies " already convoked 
in one or two states are mere shams, and were never in- 
tended to be otherwise. In all the reforms we institute, we 
should keep carefully in mind their probable effisct upon the 

231 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

native states ; and it should never be forgotten that what- 
ever our ultimate purpose in India may be, we shall only be 
successful so long as we keep the native states as a hving 
and integral part of the structure of the Empire. 

In a chapter which deals with the princes of India, the 
great Coronation Assemblage at Delhi in December and 
January 1902-3 may best find a place ; but as the last 
Delhi Durbar had many chroniclers, and as I have already 
described it at great length in my book, "At Delhi," I 
shall not enter into many details. As a pageant the Durbar 
was without precedent in the history of Asia, and probably 
its magnificence will never again be equalled. The organisers 
of the great Durbar about to be held by the King-Emperor 
at Delhi are not attempting to rival the 1903 gathering. 
The coming Durbar may excel the last assemblage in point 
of numbers, though that is now a matter of doubt ; but 
it can hardly be invested with the same dramatic picturesque- 
ness. It will derive its distinctive character from the actual 
presence of the King-Emperor and the Queen-Empress, and 
in that respect will therefore have an incomparable signi- 
ficance. For the first time in history a British Emperor will 
set foot upon the soil of India to receive the homage of 
princes and peoples. The great but inevitable defect of the 
last Durbar was the enforced absence of the Sovereign. It 
was said at the time of King Edward's death that if his 
health had permitted, he would have come to Delhi in 
person. The statement was perfectly true. For a brief 
space the project was seriously considered, but it was 
quickly realised that his Majesty's physical condition was 
unequal to the strain of so long a journey. 

The reason why the 1903 Durbar was so unique was that 
it really marked the end of an era, though designed to 
inaugurate the beginning of a new one. For the last time 
mediaeval India was revealed in its old barbaric splendour. 
For sheer spectacular magnificence no sight I have ever 
seen can be compared with the elephant procession at the 

232 




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THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

State Entry. Pictures convey no adequate conception of 
that marvellous moment when the Viceroy, on a gigantic 
elephant, with all the greatest princes of India in his train, 
approached the Jumma Musjid and entered Delhi slowly, 
impressively, the central figure in a vision so resplendent 
that at first the awestruck crowds forgot to cheer. It was 
a scene that made one catch one's breath in wonder ; for 
those who saw it nothing will ever dim the memory of the 
solemn irresistible march of the elephants, the swaying 
howdahs of burnished gold and silver, the proud Maharajahs 
seated on high, the clanging bells and the strains of martial 
music, the silent, motionless enveloping troops, the uncount- 
able crowds in radiant vestments, and the majestic setting, 
the mighty cathedral mosque and the vast red fort, and the 
umbrageous park between. The Durbar can be repeated 
again, but not that unforgettable spectacle. 

Another event which will not be seen again was the review 
of the retinues of the chiefs. It was not entirely spon- 
taneous, for many of the costumes had been prepared for 
the occasion, but it was the final glowing outburst of an 
India that has passed away for ever. On the plain outside 
the huge amphitheatre one met whole squadrons of horse- 
men in chain armour, mail-clad warriors on camels, even 
elephants in coats of mail, tattered Arab cavalry, Shans 
from Burma in green and mauve velvet, soldiers from the 
desert in huge quilted coats of slate-blue, monks from far 
Ladak in grinning dragon masks, fighting men on stilts for 
attacking war elephants, a wondrous medley of the mediaeval 
soldiery of the East. The State Ball, held in the Dewan-i- 
Am, or Hall of Pubhc Audience, in the Fort, was another 
brilliant gathering, and there was a State Investiture, at 
which the recipients of honours in the two great Indian 
Orders had their insignia bestowed upon them by the 
Viceroy. At the great review which closed the Assemblage 
Lord Curzon reviewed 30,000 troops, the flower of the Army 
of India, under the command of Lord Kitchener. 

233 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

At the Durbar itself, which was attended by over a 
hundred rulers of separate states, the King-Emperor's procla- 
mation commanding the Viceroy to hold the Durbar was 
read by a mounted herald, who rode into the arena attended 
by trumpeters. Lord Curzon read a gracious message from 
His Majesty, and afterwards announced that the Government 
had remitted three years' interest on famine loans to native 
states. The absence of any boon to the people, which is 
associated in the Oriental mind with such occasions, caused 
much disappointment ; but the financial conditions of the 
moment were not propitious. Though I have dwelt upon 
the picturesque side of the Durbar, it is a mistake to 
suppose that it was a mere pageant. Lord Curzon said 
afterwards, in his Budget speech in 1903, that " it was a 
landmark in the history of the people, and a chapter in the 
ritual of the State." It was meant " to remind all the 
princes and peoples of the Asiatic Empire of the British 
Crown that they had passed under the dominion of a new 
and single sovereign." The Durbar had to suffer some 
amount of snarling criticism, both before and afterwards, 
but there was never, in the minds of those who witnessed 
it, any doubt about its triumphant success. It created a 
new sense of unity among the Indian peoples, awoke for 
the first time a consciousness of their fellowship in a world- 
wide Empire, and strengthened their affection for the King 
and the Royal Family. The presence of the Duke and 
Duchess of Connaught, who have spent twelve years in 
India, and are greatly beloved there, contributed greatly to 
the last-named result. 

Much misconception still prevails about the cost of the 
1903 Durbar. Lord Curzon announced at the outset that 
" a great State ceremonial would never have been conducted 
in India on more economical lines." The claim was more 
than justified, for unexpected savings were effected in the 
disposal of material after the gathering. In the Budget 
Debate for 1903 it was stated that the net charge against 

234 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

Imperial revenues for the entire Durbar worked out at 
£84,000, while the expenditure of the Provincial Govern- 
ments was £90,000, making £180,000 in all. These sums 
do not include the outlay by the native states, which are 
generally lavish on such occasions. 1 can only speak of 
two or three states about which I chanced to make personal 
inquiries, and it appeared to me that in each instance the 
state had spent a moderate sum in proportion to its annual 
revenue. For example, I found that more than one 
prominent state had expended a sum equivalent to about 
three per cent, of its annual revenue ; but in Indian gossip, and 
in the columns of certain newspapers in England, these 
charges were greatly inflated by the exercise of lively 
imagination. 

The public never knew the enormous amount of labour 
Lord Curzon devoted to the Durbar. It came in the midst 
of absorbing preoccupations ; it was only an incident of his 
Viceroyalty ; but the work he did for it would have served 
some men for a lifetime. The task of preparation on the 
spot occupied a considerable staff for a whole year. Four 
times Lord Curzon visited Delhi to inspect, revise, and 
improve the arrangements. He planned every detail, and 
saw every detail executed. From first to last, the whole 
gathering was his own conception, and the driving force 
which made him a human dynamo during his sojourn in 
India alone rendered the scheme possible of execution. 
Everybody predicted failure, and yet there was never the 
slightest semblance of a breakdown. The secret of the 
work which Lord Curzon accomplished in India was that 
from early manhood he had trained himself to be absolutely 
methodical in all he undertook. No V^iceroy, save Dalhousie, 
ever wrote so much with his own hand. His papers were 
a miracle of orderliness. Some one has said that his capacity 
for work is almost inhuman, and certainly to unmethodical 
men he seemed to toil with the unswerving certitude of a 
machine ; but it was only by this rigid persistence that he 

235 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

left behind him such an astonisliing record of labours 
completed. In no undertaking did his talent for organisa- 
tion shine so brilliantly as in the Delhi Durbar. I recall the 
remark of a celebrated soldier, who roused himself from a 
reverie one evening in camp, and said he had been wondering 
what the world would have seen if the Viceroy had been in 
the Army, and had brought the same qualities to bear on the 
conduct of a great campaign. 

The Durbar was held to proclaim the accession of a new 
Sovereign, but it also fell to Lord Curzon's lot to lead a 
movement for commemorating the memory of the illustrious 
dead. From the time of his arrival he had dreamed of the 
creation of a building which should contain " a standing record 
of our wonderful history, a visible monument of Indian 
glories, and an illustration, more eloquent than any spoken 
address or printed page, of the lessons of public patriotism 
and civic duty." He had worked out the details of the 
proposal, and even prepared tentative designs of the build- 
ing, when the lamented death of Queen Victoria aroused 
throughout India a desire for an Imperial Memorial worthy 
of the late Queen-Empress. Lord Curzon submitted his 
scheme, first at a meeting in the Calcutta Town Hall on 
February 6, 1901, and afterwards at a meeting of the Asiatic 
Society of Bengal. The Victoria Hall, he explained, was to 
be an Historical Museum, a National Gallery, and it was 
essential that " the art, the science, the literature, the history, 
the men, the events which are therein commemorated must 
be those of India, and of Great Britain in India, alone." I 
will not pause to discuss the criticism which the scheme 
encountered, sometimes useful and valuable, occasionally 
carping and querulous. Disputes about national memorials 
are not unknown in England, and there is some quality in 
the climate of India which seems to develop the habit of 
mordant criticism. Such opposition as was originally offered 
to the Victoria Memorial Hall failed, in my belief, because 
nobody was able to suggest a better alternative. At any 

236 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

rate, it gradually died away. The princes and chiefs sup- 
ported the scheme with great generosity from the outset. 
Their subscriptions were at first limited to a maximum of 
£6666 each, though the maximum was afterwards raised, in 
response to a desire expressed by wealthy princes, to £16,600. 
It ought not to be necessary to say that all subscriptions 
were entirely spontaneous, and that no pressure was brought ; 
and the unworthy allegation to the contrary, openly made 
at the time, is only mentioned here for the purpose of 
explicit denial. The Maharajah of Gwalior actually offered 
the splendid donation of £66,000 towards the fund, while 
the Maharajah of Kashmir wanted to contribute £100,000. 

The Victoria Memorial Hall scheme survived all vicissi- 
tudes, thanks largely to the energetic support it received 
from the Viceroy, and the building is now under construc- 
tion on the Calcutta maidan. King George laid the founda- 
tion stone during his Indian tour as Prince of Wales. The 
building was designed by Sir William Emerson, and is to be 
in the Italian Renaissance style, though there will be " a 
suggestion of Orientalism in the arrangement of the domes 
and minor details." The whole structure will be faced with 
white marble, hewed from the Makrana quarries in Rajputana; 
and when complete it should be the architectural glory of 
Calcutta. The occasional suggestions that it should be per- 
verted to other uses have fortunately never received any 
countenance from the Government of India. Lord Curzon 
sufficiently answered the utilitarian proposals sometimes 
placed before him when he said ; " Do not let us use Queen 
Victoria's name to absolve us from our legitimate respon- 
sibilities." Some delay has been caused by unexpected 
difficulties in preparing the foundations, but in any case it 
would have taken many years to complete such a magnificent 
enterprise. 

It has been said already that Lord Curzon visited forty 
native states during his Viceroyalty, but some further notes 
of his indefatigable travels may be of interest, and they may 

237 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

fittingly conclude a chapter which has already covered a 
rather wide field. The saga of his wanderings in the Indian 
Empire may perhaps be told in greater detail by other pens ; 
but it will be worth the telling, for he always wandered with 
a definite purpose. The business of a Viceroy of India 
should be, among other things, to travel as much as possible 
in the countries he administers, and not merely to oscillate 
between Simla and Calcutta. Lord Curzon lost no oppor- 
tunity of examining in person the condition of every 
province ; and when there were decisions to be made, he 
tried whenever possible to investigate the questions on the 
spot. He was no arm-chair Viceroy. 

Three months after his arrival he went to Lahore, and 
visited the Punjab Canal Colonies, on his way from Calcutta 
to Simla. In the autumn of 1899 he started from Simla on 
his first prolonged tour, and, after a halt at Delhi, inspected 
the famine relief works at Hissar and elsewhere. His 
appearance on horseback in the relief camps — for in his 
earlier years in India he was wont to ride a good deal when 
on tour — caused some astonishment, especially as he moved 
about almost unattended whenever engaged upon famine 
inspection. Thence he went to Ajmere, and to the province 
of Kathiawar, where there was much scarcity. Lord Curzon 
is the only V-^iceroy who has visited Kathiawar. Afterwards 
he proceeded to Bombay and Poona, to visit the plague 
hospitals and to inquire into the plague preventive measures. 
At Bombay he witnessed the inauguration of the scheme for 
rebuilding the slums of the city, prepared under the auspices 
of Lord Sandhurst. His subsequent itinerary included 
Ahmednagar, Nagpur, Jabalpur, Bhopal, Gwalior, Agra, 
Cawnpore, Lucknow, and Benares. 

Early in March 1900, Lord Curzon went on a shortitour 
in Assam, which had never before been visited by a Viceroy, 
except a brief visit paid by Lord Northbrook to the Surma 
Valley. He mingled with the planters, saw the tea planta- 
tions, discussed the Assam labour question, and ascended the 

238 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

Brahmaputra River. At the end of March he made a tour 
of the North- West Frontier, partly in view of the scheme for 
the new province, which was then maturing. After a pause 
at Amritsar, where he saw the shrine of the Sikhs, he crossed 
into Baluchistan and held a Durbar for the chiefs of the 
province at Quetta ; went to the confines of Afghanistan at 
Chaman ; and returned through the Derajat and the valley 
of the Indus, reaching Simla at the end of April. The 
gravity of the famine in Western India induced Lord Curzon 
to undertake a special tour in Gujerat in August, although 
the weather was very unfavourable for traveUing. His visit, 
in conjunction with the earlier one, brought about important 
modifications in famine policy, to which I shall again refer. 

His autumn tour in 1900 was through Sind and Western 
and Southern India. His first important halt was at the 
flourishing port of Karachi. Afterwards he voyaged by sea, 
paying visits to the Rao of Cutch in his remote capital of 
Bhuj ; to the tiny Portuguese colony of Diu ; to the ancient 
city of Somnath-Patan, in Kathiawar, and to Junagadh and 
Rajkote ; to Surat, Bombay, Bijapur, and the ruined Hindu 
city of Vijayanagar ; to the vestiges of Portuguese dominion 
at Goa ; to Cochin and Quilon on the Malabar coast, and the 
old-w^orld state of Travancore ; and finally to Mysore and 
the chief cities of the Madras Presidency. One interesting 
feature of this journey was Lord Curzon's visit to the Kolat 
goldfields. 

On his way to Simla, in the spring of 1901, he inspected 
the famous Mahomedan educational institution at Aligarh, 
and also called at Delhi. In November 1901, he started on 
an adventurous journey, far from the railway, and for a little 
time even from the telegraph, through the wild hilly country 
of Silchar and Manipur, across into Upper Burma, and 
thence to Mandalay. It was a journey which would have 
tried a traveller inured to incessant hardship, but those who 
accompanied him said that, although he started weary from 
long days and nights at his desk at Simla, he showed no sign 

239 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of fatigue. The rough life seemed to act as a restorative. 
At Lashio he held a Durbar for the chiefs of the Northern 
Shan States, and various visits in Lower Burma concluded 
with his arrival at Rangoon. 

In the year 1902 Lord Curzon's travels were even more 
frequent. At the end of February he made a tour of 
Northern Bengal, including Darjeeling. When the Calcutta 
season^ closed he made a special pilgrimage to Hyderabad 
to settle the Berar question, and afterwards he went to 
Peshawar to see the officials of the new province, to receive 
the frontier chiefs in Durbar, and to inspect the Khyber. In 
August he went to Mysore to invest the young Maharajah 
with ruling powers, and he took the opportunity of con- 
ferring with the Madras Government at Ootacamund. In 
the autumn he went for a prolonged series of visits in 
the Rajputana States, and after the Durbar he stopped 
at Gaya, Arrah, Patna, and elsewhere on his way to 
Calcutta. 

The principal places visited during the spring tour of 1903 
were Allahabad, Rewah, and Kasauli ; and in the autumn 
visits to the important native states of Patiala, Nabha, Jind, 
Bahawalpur, and Ulwar, formed the prelude to the voyage 
to the Persian Gulf which has been described in an earlier 
chapter. 

The tour undertaken by the Viceroy in February 1904 
was somewhat momentous, because he went to Chittagong, 
Dacca, and Mymensingh to explain and defend the proposed 
partition of Bengal, which was then under consideration. 
He stayed at Simla afterwards, before sailing for England. 
On his return to renew his Viceroyalty he proceeded straight 
to Calcutta, but hurried to Bombay in March 1905 to meet 
Lady Curzon. His spring tour included Pusa, Rampur, 
and Lucknow ; he went to Jammu in October to restore the 
powers of the Maharajah of Kashmir, and afterwards to 
L«hore ; he came to Bombay early in November to welcome 
the Prince and Princess of Wales ; and the closing days of 

240 



THE PRINCES AND THE NATIVE STATES 

his Viceroyalty were spent in quietude at Agra, which he 
loved more than any other spot in India. 

If my recital of these Odyssean wanderings is little more 
than a very incomplete geographical list, my plea must be 
that it has been necessary to resist temptation. To yield 
would be to unfold an interminable panorama of the cities 
of the present and the relics of the historic past, and to de- 
scribe every phase of Indian life, from the tribal customs of 
the wild people of the Chin Hills, to the patient husbandry 
of the peasants of INIadras. Lord Curzon saw India as no 
other Viceroy has ever seen it ; his thirst for knowledge of 
the land under his control was insatiable ; but always his 
heart turned to the cities of Delhi and Agra, and it was in 
a final contemplation of the glorious vision of the Taj, which 
his own reverent care had done so much to preserve and 
enhance, that he sought relief from the poignant emotions 
with which his last days in India were charged. Nothing 
in India appealed to him so much as these majestic cities of 
the Moguls ; he visited each seven times, he renewed the 
ancient splendour of the one, and in the other he found 
solace at the end. 



241 



VII 

THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

When Lord Curzon was presented with the freedom of the 
City of London on July 20, 1904, he reminded the Lord 
Mayor and Corporation that " epochs arise in the history of 
every country when the administrative machinery requires 
to be taken to pieces and overhauled, and readjusted to the 
altered necessities or the growing demands of the hour." 
He went on to claim, with justice, that during his first five 
years in India he had been engaged upon "a work of reform 
and reconstruction." In his sixth Budget speech, three 
months earlier, he had said, " in no spirit of pride, but as a 
statement of fact, that reform had been carried through 
every branch and department of the administration, that 
abuses had been swept away, anomalies remedied, the pace 
quickened, and standards raised." He admitted that the 
policy had not always been popular, and the admission was 
perhaps necessary. On another occasion I^ord Curzon had 
spoken of his determination to place every branch of Indian 
policy and administration "upon the anvil, to test its 
efficiency and durability, and, if possible, do something for 
its improvement"; and though the wielder of the hammer 
in such a process might be " whole-hearted and sincere," as 
the Viceroy claimed to be, the drivers of the machines 
which were being fashioned afresh were doubtless not always 
readily amenable to the operation. Nevertheless, it was 
surprising to note how little resistance was shown to a 
widespread series of administrative reforms, and how 

242 



THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

general was the testimony to their efficacy when they were 
concluded. 

In a sense, the greater part of this record is a story of 
the overhauling of machinery. I have already described 
the reorganisation of frontier administration, the consolida- 
tion of British influence in Persia and the Gulf, the reforms 
in agrarian policy, the reconstruction of the educational 
system, and the bringing of the native states into closer 
association with the larger aims of the Empire. In later 
chapters I shall deal with the preparation of a new irrigation 
programme, the formulation of a new policy towards com- 
merce and industry, financial reforms, the rescue of Eastern 
Bengal after many decades of neglect, and the development 
of the Indian military system. The improvement of the 
defences of India formed a necessary and integral part of 
the design, and though much of the work was done by 
others, Lord Curzon not only made its fulfilment possible 
by the labours of his first four years, but himself chose the 
instrument who brought it to completion. Meanwhile 
certain features of his Viceroyalty, which have special 
relation to the administrative services, can best be brought 
together here ; and it will be convenient to deal at the same 
time with the important changes which were gradually 
introduced as a result of the Police Commission. 

The condition of the Indian police forms a constant 
theme for vituperation among a limited number of English- 
men. There are four things, however, which they omit to 
tell the public at home. They never explain that the acts 
of cruelty or oppression which they recount with so much 
zeal are invariably committed by Indians upon Indians. 
Though they expound, in Parliament and in the Press, the 
occasional scandals which arise, they never disclose the 
large number of cases in which police offences are severely 
punished by the British courts. They never make the 
slightest attempt to acknowledge the strenuous efforts of the 
Government of India, extending over a long series of years, to 

243 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

purify the police force. Above all, while condemning 
existing conditions, they never refer to the far greater 
abuses of police authority which were permitted under 
native rule. 

An accurate judgment upon many of the problems of 
India can only be formed after comparison with the circum- 
stances of the past. When an impassioned critic condemns 
this or that phase of British rule he should always be asked : 
" What was done in this respect before the British arrived ? " 
The answer, if it is a fair one, will often be found illuminating, 
and should give the measure of the progress accomplished. 
Upon no question is comparison more necessary than in the 
case of the police. The British, on their advent into the 
older provinces of India, found a few corrupt functionaries 
in the towns ; while in the country districts, in addition to 
a system of village watchmen, the zemindars, or holders of 
large estates, were held responsible for the maintenance of 
order and the suppression of crime. 

" Instead of protecting the inhabitants of their estates, 
these landowners had grossly abused the authority entrusted 
to them for that purpose. They extorted and amassed 
wealth, which was dissipated in a jealous rivalry of mag- 
nificent pageantry. The weapons which were intended for 
the enemies only of the state were turned against the state 
itself, and against each other, and were used for plans of 
personal aggrandisement, mutual revenge, or public plunder. 
It was sometimes with difficulty that the regular or standing 
Army of the state could restrain the insolence or subdue 
the insubordination of these intestine rebels and robbers." 

It cannot be said that in their early experiments the 
British effected much improvement. Their first reforms 
were actually attended by a marked increase of crime ; and 
even in later years, when it was thought some progress had 
been made, the revelations of the Madras Torture Com- 
mission of 1855 showed that the trouble was still deep. 

24<4 



THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

The records of the last half-century contain evidence of 
repeated attempts to improve the efficiency, and to restrain 
the malpractices, of the police. Lord Lansdowne gave the 
question much anxious attention, and introduced many 
valuable improvements. He was hampered, however, in 
this and in other projects by lack of funds. 

Lord Curzon was so vividly aware of the need for further 
reform of the police that he included the subject in his first 
list of twelve questions. In 1902, with the approval of the 
Secretary of State, he appointed a Commission, with Sir 
Andrew Eraser as President, and Mr. (afterwards Sir Harold) 
Stuart as Secretary, to inquire into the police administration 
of every province. Three provinces had already submitted 
extensive proposals for the reorganisation of their police, 
and the object of the Commission was to devise a homo- 
geneous plan of reform. The Commission sat for seven 
and a half months, and visited every province of British 
India except Baluchistan. It was the last of the 
great Commissions appointed during Lord Curzon's 
Viceroyalty. 

Its report was signed on May 30, 1903, and contained 
such a severe indictment of the Indian police system that 
some surprise was afterwards expressed at the courage of 
the Government in permitting its tardy publication. The 
tone of its conclusions is sufficiently disclosed in the 
following extracts : 

*' There can be no doubt that the police force through- 
out the country is in a most unsatisfactory condition, that 
abuses are common everywhere, that this involves great 
injury to the people and discredit to the Government, and 
that radical reforms are urgently necessary. These reforms 
will cost much, because the department has hitherto been 
starved ; but they must be effected. . . . 

*' The police force is far from efficient ; it is defective in 
training and organisation ; it is inadequately supervised ; it 
is generally regarded as corrupt and oppressive ; and it has 

245 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

utterly failed to secure the confidence and cordial co- 
operation of the people. . . . 

" The attitude of the people towards the police, and of 
public opinion in regard to unrighteousness and corruption, 
have to be raised." 



The Government of India, in a covering resolution, 
while acknowledging the admirable character of the report, 
expressed the opinion that it was a picture which had been 
formed "by picking out and massing together all the 
separate blots which at various times disfigure police work 
in India." The Commission, they thought, had perhaps 
hardly made sufficient allowance for the tendency of Indian 
witnesses to exaggerate ; and they very properly suggested 
that the existing state of affairs, unsatisfactory as it might 
be, represented an immense advance on that described 
in the report of the Madras Commission in 1855. Lord 
Curzon, however, declared two years afterwards that " no 
more fearless or useful report had ever been placed before the 
Government of India." He had from the outset favoured 
unedited publication, and the opposition which delayed 
the appearance of the document was understood to have 
come from England. A further cause of delay was the 
necessity for prolonged reference to the provincial Govern- 
ments upon points of detail. 

I should be inclined to say that, while there were 
probably few specific statements in the report which could 
be challenged, it laid too little stress on the better qualities 
of the police force, and therefore hardly did it justice. In 
considering the shortcomings of the Indian police, we may 
well recall the condition of the police arrangements in 
England before the reforms of Sir Robert Peel. Recently 
Sir Edmund Cox, a well-known Indian police officer, has 
advanced three interesting reasons in support of his conten- 
tion that the police have the confidence of the people. If it 
is ever proposed, he says, to abolish any police post, there is 

246 



THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

at once a flood of petitions for its retention ; very often a 
similar flood is produced by a proposal to remove a head 
constable or constable ; and in minor cases, including small 
thefts, people will often walk miles to lay a complaint before 
the regular police sooner than inform the village police. 
These reasons deserve consideration, though they do not 
seem to me very convincing ; and I should be surprised to 
learn that they apply to Bengal. The Police Commission 
was in many respects the best Commission appointed by 
Lord Curzon. It performed its task thoroughly, and made 
many admirable recommendations, some of which are still 
being worked out ; and yet several of the features of its 
report were curiously unpractical. Certain of its suggestions 
for the better policing of the great cities were rightly resisted, 
and in Bombay the opposition was successful ; while the 
proposal that prospective police officers should spend two 
years at an English University, which was promptly rejected 
by the Government of India, was astonishing. 

The most important recommendation of the Commission 
was that the pay of all ranks of the police should be increased, 
and therein was touched the mainspring of police reform in 
India. IMany of the evils which still exist are traceable to 
the practice of investing with official authority uneducated 
peasants, who are expected to subsist on the merest pittance. 
How can a solitary English police officer, possibly in charge 
of a huge district containing a million inhabitants, prevent 
corruption and oppression by his poorly paid subordinates, in 
a country which regards such practices as the natural pre- 
rogative of Government underlings? The marvel is, not 
that abuses exist, but rather that they are not more frequent. 
Yet the cost of placing the pay of the police upon a really 
adequate basis, in an Empire with the area and population 
of India, must always be to a great extent prohibitive. 
Among the host of other recommendations, proposals to 
increase the strength of the force in all provinces, to institute 
a provincial police service manned by natives of India (to 

247 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

fill the higher native posts), to establish training schools for 
probationers of all grades, and to develop the old village 
police, may be noted. The Commission estimated the cost 
of its proposals at an additional million pounds a year, and 
it is not surprising that the Government of India gasped in 
some dismay at the figures. 

Nevertheless, Lord Curzon strenuously set to vs^ork upon 
such of the proposals as could be carried out without delay. 
The report, after being held back for nearly two years, was 
issued to the public on March 21, 1905. The Budget of 
1905-6 allotted £330,000 to the provincial Governments as 
a first grant in aid of police reforms. It was at once decided 
gradually to increase the total strength of the force from 
149,000 to 168,000 men, and this has since been more than 
completed, for there are now 177,758 officers and men. The 
strengthening of the armed reserves was hurried forward, 
because their utilisation in preserving internal peace in the 
event of external war formed an important feature of Lord 
Kitchener's scheme of Indian defence. One very valuable 
reform was the creation of a Department of Criminal 
Intelligence, of which Sir Harold Stuart was the first 
Director. The Department is charged with the investiga- 
tion of special forms of crime, including political offences. 
Its duties are not an innovation, but they had previously 
been somewhat inadequately discharged by the obsolete 
Thagi and Dakaiti Department. The changes proposed by 
the Police Commission are still incomplete, and the suggested 
development of the village police has not yet been accom- 
plished ; but the Commission itself recognised that it would 
take "a generation of official life" to carry out a policy 
based upon the principles it formulated. Lord Curzon settled 
the policy, and secured the adherence of the Secretary of 
State and the provincial Governments. He gave the new 
scheme a vigorous start, and his successors have loyally 
followed the lines he laid down. A fair test of the extent of 
the improvements already effected is provided by the records 

248 



THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

of expenditure. When Lord Curzon went to India, the 
total annual expenditure upon the police was £2,117,000; 
by 1908-9 it had reached £3,212,189, and it is still increasing. 
Further progress in police administration does not depend 
upon the efforts of the Government alone ; it depends far 
more upon the development in India of that consciousness 
of the duties of citizenship, which in ^Western countries 
leads the public to give the police their moral, and on 
occasion their practical support. 

In my belief, the Indian police do not receive fair treat- 
ment. They will never be regenerated by the bullying to 
which they are now subjected from every quarter. No body 
of men was ever made efficient by incessant discouragement. 
Their defects partly arise from the indifferent quality of the 
administration of criminal justice. If the police are often bad, 
the courts of high and low degree are frequently of dubious 
competency. Inefficient courts tend to make a poor police. 
No reflection is intended upon the eminent men who in the 
past have found well-deserved fame in the Indian judicial 
service. The Indian courts to-day contain many judges of 
whose qualifications and attainments any country might 
well be proud. I speak solely of the general average of 
efficiency. The district courts of India are chiefly manned 
by civil servants ; in the High Courts there is a statutory 
proportion of English or Indian barristers (a number of 
civilian judges are also barristers). Common failings among 
civilian judges are laxity in the observance of the laws of 
evidence, and a tendency to allow undue latitude to the 
Bar. The extraordinary licence permitted to the Bar has 
become a feature of most Indian courts in recent years. 
Apart from the Chief Justices and a few other notable 
exceptions, the discipline maintained in the courts is 
generally open to criticism. On the other hand, English 
barrister judges are sometimes far too disposed to measure 
everything they hear by English standards, and they have 
little opportunity of gaining knowledge of the country and 

249 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the people, unless they have first practised for a long time 
at the Indian Bar. The need for a Commission to inquire 
into the whole system of the administration of criminal 
justice in India — not only in the courts, but perhaps still 
more in the methods of prosecution adopted by the Govern- 
ment — is scarcely less urgent than the need w^hich existed 
with regard to the police in 1902. I am not sure that such 
an inquiry should be confined to the criminal side of the 
courts. In the case of the chartered High Courts, the whole 
system probably requires placing "upon the anvil." The 
redeeming feature of the situation is the exalted standards 
of integrity held by English and Indian judges alike. 

Lord Curzon carried out several important judicial re- 
forms, though he left untouched the great issue of the 
inadequacy of the courts and their methods. He recognised 
that judicial service was unpopular among Indian civilians 
owing to its limited opportunities, and sought to improve 
the quality of the judiciary by increasing the pay and the 
pension benefits of High Court judges. He raised the 
strength of the Calcutta High Court, added judges in several 
of the provincial tribunals, and provided a Chief Court 
for Lower Burma. The position of the subordinate judiciary 
was improved in most provinces. In many respects the 
whole judicial establishment throughout India was re- 
organised. An enormous task, originally begun by Sir 
Henry Prinsep, was the revision of the great Indian Code 
of Civil Procedure, which was almost entirely done during 
Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty. It consolidated and amended 
many separate enactments, and was finally passed in 1908. 

It is almost impossible to specify in detail the many 
reforms by which Lord Curzon ameliorated the position of 
the officers of every branch of the executive, from the highest 
to the lowest. His most famous reform in this respect, the 
curtailment of reports and statistical returns, was only 
incidentally meant for the benefit of Government servants, 
and was chiefly intended to erase a serious blot upon the 

250 



THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

administration of India. He said in his tliird Budget 
speech : 

" The system of report-writing that prevails in India is 
at once the most perfect and most pernicious in the world — 
the most perfect in its orderly marshalling of facts and 
figures, and in its vast range of its operation ; the most 
pernicious in the remorseless consumption of time, not to 
mention print and paper, that it involves, and in its stifling 
repression of independence of thought or judgment." 

In conjunction with the local Governments, he was able 
gradually to effect substantial reductions in the enormous 
masses of printed matter which pour from the Government 
presses. In 1903 he announced that 300 obligatory reports 
to the Government had been abolished, that the number 
of pages of letterpress of the remaining reports had been 
reduced from 18,000 to 8600, and the number of pages of 
statistics from 17,400 to 11,300. Any one who has chanced 
to see an agonised Government officer in the throes of 
producing his annual report will appreciate the relief thus 
provided. It was said at the time that the fetish of ink is 
worshipped so inveterately in the Indian system that all the 
edicts of Lord Curzon would only have a transient effect. 
My impression is that some at least of the results have been 
permanent. On the other hand, although the w^hole country 
resounded with his repeated fulminations, although a special 
officer was placed in charge of Government printing, I observe 
that whereas when he landed in India the Government were 
spending £470,000 annually upon stationery and printing, 
the charges under this head not only showed a slight 
increase during his Viceroyalty, but within three years of his 
departure had swollen to the huge total of £786,000. I am 
quite unable to explain the cause of this rapid growth, which 
seems to call for inquiry. The comment of the authorities 
was that there had been "a gradual and inevitable increase," 
which was a statement of fact, but not an explanation. 

251 



INDTA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

More recently the outlay under this head has been slightly 
reduced. J\Ir. Gokhale has more than once called attention 
to the question. It has been suggested to me that a possible 
contributory cause is that centralisation has increased. 
Provincial Governments are more frequently called upon to 
report on ephemeral occurrences, and they pour forth printed 
information in anxious self-defence. 

While the merits of Lord Curzon's remarkable crusade 
against reports cannot be denied, the results were not wholly 
satisfactory. In its original form the average Indian report 
was not so perfect as he suggested ; in its revised form it 
became a repellent collection of the driest bones imaginable. 
I venture to take exception to the spirit in which he 
approached the subject. He always spoke as though the 
reports were meant solely for the information of the 
Government; I contend that they should be devised for 
the information of the public also. In a scattered country 
with limited representative institutions, it is peculiarly 
necessary for the Government, not only to tell the public 
what they are doing, but to try to interest them in their 
work. The brilliant and comprehensive Budget speeches of 
Lord Curzon, in which he was wont annually to survey the 
entire field of administration, to some extent served this 
purpose ; but just as these speeches were without precedent, 
so they have unfortunately found no imitator. Lord Curzon 
rightly sought to restrict the stream of reports, but he did 
nothing to vivify their spirit. A more depressing and unin- 
structive series of compilations it is impossible to conceive. 

Take, for example, the great work of irrigation in which 
the Government of India are engaged. An inquirer might 
search through the whole range of annual irrigation reports 
without gaining any clear practical comprehension of its 
objects or results. Both the irrigation and forestry reports 
are extremely inadequate. On the other hand, the annual 
" Review of the Trade of India " prepared by Mr. F. Noel- 
Paton is an admirable publication, in which the broad facts are 

252 



THE OV^ERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

not concealed behind clouds of unnecessary figures. One of 
the most slovenly and unsatisfactory reports associated with 
India is the annual " Statement exhibiting the Moral and 
Material Progress and Condition of India," which is presented 
to Parliament without a blush by the Secretary of State. 
Members of Parliament usually speak of this annual " State- 
ment " in terms of the most profound respect and admira- 
tion. They refer to it with awestruck adjectives, such as 
are generally applied to Shakespeare by people who do not 
read him. I can only conclude that in their case the 
" Statement " encounters a similar fate. The one thing it 
does not do is to disclose a clear picture of the progress and 
condition of India in any given year. It is compiled upon 
an entirely wrong basis, for it is little but a defective con- 
densation of the provincial administration reports. The 
Secretary of State is not responsible for its form, which is 
prescribed by an obsolete provision of the Act of 1858. 
The result of this provision, which ought to be amended, is 
that attention is diffused over masses of petty provincial 
details. No attempt is made to elucidate the general principles 
and factors which have governed the Indian Administration 
during the year. Everything is dealt with by a multitude 
of references to provinces, almost as though the Home 
Government tried to explain its work of the year by 
describing its effect upon each county. Some of the intro- 
ductory paragraphs prefixed to each chapter have been 
appearing, practically without variation, for more than a 
decade. Meanwhile events of Imperial importance are 
frequently ignored. A single example will suffice to illus- 
trate my meaning. Perhaps the most important event of 
the year 1902 in India was the presentation of the report 
of the Indian Universities Commission, which, as I have 
explained, had far-reaching political results. The Secretary 
of State, in his annual " Statement," gravely informed 
Parliament that the Commission's recommendations "cannot 
be adequately summarised here," and dismissed the whole 

253 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

subject in a couple of lines ; but he gave innumerable facts 
in every chapter about the administration of the small and 
unimportant province of Coorg, which most people would 
be puzzled to point out upon a map. 

No Government in the Empire is subjected to so much 
criticism as the Government of India. Upon no Govern- 
ment is it more incumbent to make known to the world the 
character of their undertakings. They complain bitterly 
that they are misunderstood, and that insufficient interest 
is taken in their work, but they do not make the slightest 
attempt to present the records of their labours to the public 
in a form which can be readily comprehended. They 
grumble because the people of India feel no gratitude for 
the benefits conferred upon them ; but how can they be 
expected to do so when the results are not shown to them 
in a way they can understand ? Travellers are condemned 
for painting inaccurate pictures of British rule ; but do the 
Government do anything effisctual to help strangers to right 
conclusions ? 

The administrators of India might very well profit by 
studying the methods of the Dominions. The visitor to Canada 
is not long left in doubt about the work of the Canadian 
Government. He finds ample information readily accessible 
in a simple form about every branch of the administration, 
about the condition of the country, its finances, its resources, 
its progress, and its possibilities. Much of it, no doubt, is 
meant to attract settlers ; but the Government of India 
have a more urgent duty to perform. They have to justify 
their work to the people of India first, and the people of 
England afterwards, and they do not try to do so. India 
spends three-quarters of a million pounds every year upon 
stationery and printing, and yet does not produce a solitary 
publication fit to be compared even in the remotest degree 
with the " Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of 
Australia." In that admirable book, which should serve as 
a model for the whole Empire, IVIr. G. H. Knibbs, the 

254 



THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

Commonwealth Statistician, brings together in a compact 
form, with ilhiminating explanations, every variety of in- 
formation which either Australians or their visitors are 
likely to require. The Government of India content them- 
selves with issuing once in a lifetime an excellent Gazetteer 
in twenty-four volumes, partially out of date. 

One recent instance of the unfortunate lack of purpose 
and forethought which distinguishes the publications of the 
Government of India may be quoted. They have given 
the people larger privileges of representation and speech 
in the Legislative Councils. The meetings of the Councils 
are more frequent, the debates are longer, and it is on these 
occasions that the spokesmen of the Government are wont 
to expound and defend their policy. The very first coroUar} 
of this development should have been the publication of the 
official reports of the debates in a handy form, as is the 
custom in every other assembly in the world. These 
debates provide almost the only opportunity the Govern- 
ment of India and the provincial Governments possess of 
being heard in their own defence ; but nothing was done 
until recently. The Imperial reports are now better 
printed, though far too bulky; but the rest still appear in 
a collection of large loose sheets attached to the pro- 
vincial " Gazettes." They are only obtainable with some 
difficulty in India, and are almost unprocurable in England ; 
yet upon them the Government of India and the provin- 
cial Governments have to depend for their justification to 
the British public. If they would take down from their 
shelves the dusty records of the Legislative Council meetings 
before the Mutiny, they would find that their predecessors 
of more than fifty years ago had a far better comprehension 
of the importance of reports, and the manner in which they 
should be printed, than exists to-day. It is a curious fact 
that all Indian reports were far better done under Company 
rule, and that with the advent of Crown rule they rapidly 
deteriorated in quality, though the quantity increased 

255 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

enormously. The explanation that more time w^s available 
in the old days does not suffice ; and I believe the true 
reason to be that the servants of the Company had to justify 
their work, and that the obligation does not appear to lie in 
the same degree upon the servants of the Crown. There 
are no modern Government publications comparable with 
the " Selections from Government Records " which appeared 
in the first half of last century. The present craze of official 
secrecy was also then unknown. 

A sequel to Lord Curzon's crusade against reports 
was his endeavour to reduce the number of letters and 
despatches written in the secretariats. This was a reform 
which did not come so prominently before the public, 
but probably it had even more beneficial results. 1 
hope they may not be ephemeral. He tried to induce 
the departments to settle their business in personal con- 
sultations, to avoid protracted controversies, to reduce 
the practice of " noting," and to prevent delays in arriving 
at conclusions. The memorandum in which these improve- 
ments were recommended was drafted by himself, and a 
series of instructions was based upon it. He was an un- 
compromising foe to those interminable and inconclusive 
deliberations in which a bureaucracy delights. Of all the 
epithets which have ever been applied to him, I think 
" bureaucratic " to be the least deserved. He was in many 
ways the Very antithesis of the bureaucratic spirit. He was 
eager to get things done. Nothing gave him more joy than 
to discover some venerable question which had been moulder- 
ing on the files for years, and to settle it for ever. At the 
farewell dinner given to him by the members of the United 
Service Club at Simla, he told this story in a moment of 
humorous reminiscence : 

" I remember in my first year settling a case that had 
been pursuing the even tenor of its way without, as far as 
I could ascertain, exciting the surprise or ruffling the temper 

256 






THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

of an individual for sixty-one years. I drove my pen like 
a stiletto into its bosom. 1 buried it with exultation, and I 
almost danced upon the grave." 

In 1901 he also effected important alterations in the 
Leave Rules, the principal result of which was that officers 
were allowed to combine privilege leave with furlough. The 
change conferred a considerable boon, but it had the far 
more valuable consequence that it improved the administra- 
tive system by helping to check frequent short transfers. 
At the same time, orders were framed with the object of 
putting an end to the game of " general post " which hin- 
dered continuity of control in the secretariats and in the 
districts. The whole administration had become a phantas- 
magoria of fleeting officials. In some provinces there were 
appointments which had been filled by half a dozen men 
within a year. Lord Curzon gave directions which ensured 
that in future officers appointed to a particular district 
should stay there a reasonable time. 

The re-organisation of the Political Department was not 
finally sanctioned until after Lord Curzon's departure. It 
provided separate cadres for military officers and for civil 
servants, but directed that the highest posts were to be 
allotted by selection among both branches. The rates of pay 
were increased. The scheme was only provisional, and will 
be revised again. In the Indian INIedical Service, the pay of 
all grades of officers in civil employment was raised, and the 
position and prospects of Indian subordinate medical officers 
and hospital assistants were improved. Again, the disadvan- 
tages under which the " uncovenanted " officials (mostly 
Indians) laboured in nearly every branch of the provincial 
executives were substantially ameliorated. 

I am not making a catalogue ; I am only selecting casual 
illustrations. Just as every department was thoroughly 
overhauled, so there was not a servant of the Government, 
from Members of Council to the humblest doorkeeper in a 

257 » 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

district office, who did not in some way derive additional 
personal benefit, and find his emokiments or privileges 
increased, during Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty. These boons 
were not forgotten. As the time for his departure drew 
near, tributes poured in upon the Viceroy who had made it 
his business to look to the interests, not only of officers in 
high place, but still more of the multitude of humble and 
obscure men enrolled in the service of the Crown. From 
poor telegraph clerks, from Customs officers in distant ports, 
from grateful Eurasians, from lowly men in the Salt 
Department, from railway subordinates, from every class of 
Government servant, many of whom had never even seen the 
Viceroy, came sorrowing messages of thanks and farewell. 
One touching example must suffice. The clerks of the 
Simla Secretariat, whose scale of allowances he had tried to 
improve, asked leave to present a farewell address. They 
said they were aware that in doing so they were *' taking 
a course unprecedented in the annals of our service " ; 
but they could not allow the Viceroy to leave the country 
without recording their expressions of gratitude. They 
gave as their reason : 

" While absorbed in the momentous problems of 
state policy, your Lordship never lost an opportunity of 
ameliorating the condition of the very large body of public 
servants known by the general name of the * Uncovenanted 
Service.' " 

Out of sheaves of testimony, this simple and spontaneous 
acknowledgment from some of the humblest but most 
deserving men in Government employ is the only one that 
I shall quote. Lord Curzon's reply disclosed a phase of his 
work which until then had remained almost unknown to the 
general public. He said : 

"Ever since I came to India my heart has been drawn 
towards the subordinate officers of our Government. I 

258 



THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

found after a little experience, not merely that these classes 
were rather forlorn and friendless, but that there was a 
tendency, when they made mistakes or were guilty of 
offences, to be somewhat hard upon them, and on occasions 
to hustle them out of employment or pension upon hasty 
and inadecjuate grounds. . . . 

" 1 set myself, therefore, to try to understand the 
position, and, if possible, to alleviate the lot of the classes 
of wliom I hav^e been speaking, and the new rules which we 
have passed or systems that we have introduced about the 
abolition of lining in the departments of Government, the 
observance of public holidays, the leave rules of the sub- 
ordinate Services, the rank and pay of the higher grades 
among them, and the allowances and pensionary prospects 
of all classes — have, I hope, done a good deal to mitigate 
some of the hardships that have been felt, and to place them 
in a more assured and comfortable position in the 
future. . . . 

" Personally, I have taken, if possible, an even warmer 
interest in the opportunities that have presented themselves 
to me of investigating memorials and grievances, and now 
and then of rescuing individuals from excessive punishment 
or undeserved disgrace. You know, for I have often stated 
it in public, the feelings that 1 hold about the standards of 
British rule in this country. We are here before everything 
else to give justice; and a single act of injustice is, in my 
view, a greater stain upon our rule than much larger errors 
of policy or judgment. I have sometimes thought that in 
dealing with subordinates, and particularly native sub- 
ordinates, there is a tendency to be rather peremptory in our 
our methods and to visit transgression, or suspected trans- 
gression, with the maximum of severity. For flagrant mis- 
conduct, whether among high or low, European or native, 
I have never felt a ray of sympathy. But I have always 
thought that a small man whose whole fortune and 
livelihood were at stake deserved just as much consideration 
for his case, if not more so, than a big man, and that we 
ought to be very slow to inflict a sentence of ruin unless the 
proof were very strong. ... A Viceroy of India ... as 
the final court of appeal on every case, great or small, amid 

259 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the vast population of India, has chances that occur to but 
few. I think that he ought to take them. I have tried to 
do so. I can recall long night hours spent in the effort to 
unravel some tangled case of alleged misconduct resulting 
in the dismissal of a poor unknown native subordinate. 
Perhaps those hours have not been the worst spent of my 
time in India, and the simple letters of gratitude from the 
score or more of humble individuals whom I have thus 
saved from ruin have been equally precious in my eyes with 
the resolutions of public bodies or the compliments of 
princes." 



In his relations with the Indian Civil Service, Lord 
Curzon had one prominent characteristic which he possessed 
in greater measure than any other modern Viceroy : he 
never forgot " the men in the districts." " India," he said, 
" may be governed from Simla or Calcutta ; but it is 
administered from the plains." The first list of suggested 
honours that he submitted to the Queen-Empress showed 
that he was determined to secure recognition for the officers 
who were toiling among the people ; and in the later dis- 
tinctions conferred upon his recommendation the same 
principle always found exemplification. When he was 
inquiring into the qualifications of any officer, he rarely 
failed to ask how much of his service had been spent " in 
the districts." Men who clung to the secretariats through- 
out their service in the hope of accelerating promotion met 
with small mercy at his hands ; and he tried — I fear not 
successfully — to ensure that periodical reversion to district 
service should be a recommendation, and not a handicap, in 
the competition for coveted posts. It is largely owing to 
his influence that the type of officer, once very prevalent, 
who had practically no experience of district work, is fast 
disappearing from the Indian Civil Service. He was 
extremely severe on incapacity, and too impatient of 
mediocrity ; but the men in whom he once placed reliance 
knew that he would back them up, and never leave them in 

260 



THE OVERHAULING OF MACHINERY 

the lurch. I never heard of a single case in the whole of 
his Viceroyalty in which a good man had reason to complain 
that he had not been supported by the Viceroy in an 
emergency. Sometimes he was almost too loyal to the 
men he trusted ; and in more than one case the beliefs he 
had formed were not quite justified when the test was 
applied. It was a fault that can be lightly passed 
over. 

The Civil Service does not desire praise. It wants 
support; and there was not a civilian in India who did not 
know that he had in the Viceroy a champion who would 
leap into the breach to defend him against attack so long as 
he was in the right. Thus Lord Curzon inspired in the 
Service a confidence which, not without notorious reason, 
has waned in more recent years. He was a hard taskmaster, 
occasionally outwardly unsympathetic, and at times sparing 
in thanks ; but he had the secret of encouraging men to do 
the best that was in them, and no Viceroy was ever more 
devotedly served. He was as jealous a custodian of the 
traditions of the Civil Service as the officers of that Service 
themselves. From his youth he had held it in the highest 
admiration, and he believed it to be charged with the most 
sacred trust in the Empire. If he expected much, it was 
because he was not willing that so proud and honourable a 
Service should ever fall below the most exalted standard of 
public duty. A defect w^as that he did not sufficiently 
encourage — and occasionally resented — that independence 
of thought which every Viceroy should tolerate as one of 
the best and oldest characteristics of the Service. 

A work which Lady Curzon had greatly at heart, and 
did much to forward, may fittingly find record in this 
chapter. On the death of the Queen-Empress, Lady Curzon 
instituted, as a memorial to that revered monarch, a fund 
for the provision of midwives to Indian women, which 
was established on a substantial basis. At a later stage, 
during her last two years in India, she framed a scheme for 

2GI 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

establishing an Indian Nursing Association, for the provision 
of nurses for Europeans in up-country stations. A committee 
was convened at Simla, many meetings were held at which 
she presided, and detailed proposals were ultimately drafted 
and submitted to the Secretary of State, though the project 
was intended to be in the main self-supporting. Afterwards 
she had repeated interviews with the home authorities on 
the subject, and devoted much time to remodelhng the 
original scheme. It had been completely redrafted, and was 
under the consideration of the heads of local governments, 
when Lady Curzon finally left India. It was ultimately 
carried into effect upon somewhat different and larger 
lines. 



,* 
y 



262 




f-y^'A^^uz-ce^ .:^^^^a^^i^(3'U^^ 



Z"^ (^^^y^^Z/?'ny. 



VIII 
PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

I. THE PROBLEM OF PLAGUE 

The recurring pandemics of plague which have swept 
throughout the world are one of the mysteries of history, 
and their effect upon the destinies of mankind has never 
been adequately demonstrated. Time and again plague has 
unexpectedly emerged from some obscure corner, cut broad 
swathes through the human race, and vanished amid remote 
mountains or swamps, leaving behind it a trail of countless 
graves. Its last disappearance was so complete that twenty 
years ago most men thought it had gone for ever. In 
England the prayer for use " in time of any common plague 
or sickness " awoke no dim traditions. Historians had 
almost ceased to note the deep marks plague left upon the 
national hfe. Yet they are still visible. Every English 
hedgerow is a reminder of plague. The Black Death 
destroyed half the population of England. The consequent 
scarcity of labour gave the final blow to villeinage and 
serfdom. When farming in common ceased it became 
necessary to define the fields, and the hedgerows mark the 
change in land tenure. Plague brought about the emanci- 
pation of the English labouring classes. It was the direct 
forerunner of the Free Labourer, who has been the strength 
of England. The words of John Ball might have been 
spoken by any labour leader of to-day ; and the records of 
the labour agitation of the fourteenth century help, by the 
way, to a better and more sympathetic comprehension of 
some of the events of 1911. 

263 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Plague helped to kill the textile industries of the Eastern 
Counties, and thus laid the foundations of the modern 
prosperity of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and to a lesser 
extent of the West of England. It accelerated the decline of 
the power and wealth of the monasteries, and thus brought 
nearer the Reformation. It revolutionised the life of the 
Church ; and it greatly modified Church architecture, for 
many structures begun in one period had to be completed in 
another, when architectual ideals had altered. It crushed 
the University of Oxford for half a century, and led William 
of Wykeham to establish his great foundations for the revival 
of learning. The garden of New College is believed to be on 
the site of an old plague-pit. Plague even facilitated the 
growth of English literature. Up to the time of the Black 
Death French was the principal language of the schools and 
of the wealthy. So many teachers died that a new race of 
schoolmasters arose who insisted on giving instruction in the 
English tongue, and the way was thereby paved for " Piers 
the Plowman " and Chaucer. 

In wandering about Europe after the extraordinary 
effects of plague had been burned upon my mind in India, I 
have often been struck by the frequency with which reminis- 
cences of plague are met. In Vienna, the green dome of 
the Karlskirche, and the Trinity column in the Graben — 
surely the only example in existence of clouds laboriously 
represented in stone — alike commemorate the end of an 
epidemic. The glorious church of Santa Maria della Salute 
at Venice was built as a votive offering to the Virgin for 
having stayed the plague, which in the seventeenth century 
carried off 140,000 persons in the city and lagoons within 
sixteen months. An endless list of instances could be 
compiled. One need not go abroad to find them. Across 
the Downs at Clifton is a narrow thoroughfare still known 
as *' Pitch and Pay Lane." As its name implies, it marks 
the spot where the country people were wont during a 
plague epidemic to deposit provisions, for which the stricken 

264 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

citizens of Bristol left cash in exchange. In Gloucestershire 
I once witnessed the dispersal of a riotous mob which had 
turned out to protest against the conversion into a smallpox 
hospital of an ancient and lonely building locally known as 
" the pest-house." The very name of plague had been 
forgotten by the people, but the vague terror survived. 

The earliest appearances of plague are only obscurely 
recorded, but we know that in the fourteenth century it 
devastated Europe. The mortality in that appalling 
pandemic has been calculated by Hecker at 25,000,000. 
It remained in Europe in fluctuating degree until the first 
quarter of the eighteenth century, after which it was rarely 
seen except in the neighbourhood of the Balkans. Very 
early in the nineteenth century it was almost lost from view. 
Even in India it gradually became only a shadowy legend. 
The medical authorities of Bombay, which was afterwards 
to be smitten so heavily, reported in good faith in 1887 that 
it had never to their knowledge existed in the city, although 
a subsequent search showed that severe visitations were 
noted in the ancient archives. Doctors forgot how to treat 
plague. Governments ceased to guard against it. But it had 
never left the earth. By some inexplicable process, it had 
withdrawn into half a dozen spots in Asia where travellers 
rarely penetrated, and where its continuous existence was 
either unknown or disregarded. When seen it was usually 
called by other names. No one suspected that any fresh 
danger to the world was lurking in a curious disease which 
clung in an endemic form to the mountains south of JNIecca, 
to the swamps of JMesopotamia, to a single district on the 
Indian slopes of the Himalayas, to the uplands of Yunnan 
in Western China, and probably to parts of Tiukestan, the 
Caucasus, and the barren shores of the Caspian. Once, in 
1877-78, it flared out near Astrakhan, in European Russia, 
and was duly recognised as plague. All Europe grew 
momentarily alarmed, but the epidemic seemed to die 
away as mysteriously as it came, and was wiped out of 

265 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

recollection. It never really disappeared afterwards from 
the Volga, though it passed unnoticed. 

A far larger menace was even then developing, In the 
seventies of last century, plague awoke again in the 
recesses of Yunnan, and began to move slowly outwards. 
No notice was taken of the stories of its ravages told by 
stray explorers. It took more than a decade eifectively to 
reach the Chinese coast, where it exacted a cruel toll in 
Canton and Hong-Kong in 1894 and succeeding years. By 
the end of the nineteenth century it had infected the whole 
world ; but no one can say why it reappeared once more in 
renewed strength and virulence. The ultimate causes of 
the rise and decline of great epidemic diseases have per- 
plexed mankind all through the ages. We know how to 
fight cholera, but not why it remains one year comparatively 
quiescent in the swamps of Lower Bengal, and in another 
spreads far and wide in Europe. When we try to account 
for the larger phenomena of the vast cycles of pestilence we 
find ourselves on the edge of a still unfathomed chasm in 
human knowledge. Epidemics are often ascribed to the 
influence of other great natural calamities, but India endured 
famine after famine in the second half of last century 
without any coincident outbreak of plague. 

The existence of plague in Bombay was first suspected 
in July 1896. Cases which were afterwards regarded as 
plague were definitely noted on August 15. The first death 
registered as due to "bubonic fever" was recorded on 
August 31. The first official intimation that plague existed 
in the city was made on September 23. A theory that it 
was brought by pilgrims from Kumaon in the Himalayas 
has found some supporters, but there is practically no doubt 
that the infection was conveyed by rats on ships from 
Hong-Kong. The first human cases were noted near grain 
warehouses close to the docks, which were infested by rats. 
The epidemic gradually spread into every part of India. 
The recorded deaths from plague in India up to June 1911 

266 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

numbered 7,530,000, and are probably considerably more ; 
and a careful comparison of data leads to the belief that 
most of these deaths were in addition to the ordinary rate 
of mortality from normal diseases, which is already high. 
Since the Black Death of the fourteenth century there has 
been no such mortality from plague as has occurred in India 
in our own time. In the years after 1896 plague appeared 
in sporadic form in every continent. It effected lodgments, 
mostly ineffectual, in fifty-one countries. In no instance 
did the outbreak attain really important dimensions, and 
public anxiety was therefore invariably lulled. The delusion 
that the white races are practically exempt — they are 
certainly more resistant, and better protected by clothing 
and habits of life — fostered the tendency to treat the matter 
lightly. Statesmen talked of improved sanitation. They 
forgot that it was not improved sanitation which caused 
plague to hide itself in a few wild places after the eighteenth 
century. 

There are several varieties of plague, but its principal 
forms are divided into bubonic, pneumonic, and septicsemic 
plague, though a single case may in turn exhibit symptoms 
of all three varieties. Pneumonic plague is the most fatal 
form ; there are few recoveries, and death sometimes super- 
venes in a few hours. The alarming outbreak of plague in 
Manchuria in the winter of 1910-11 was almost entirely 
pneumonic. The common form in India is bubonic, though 
the other varieties are occasionally met. The period of 
incubation is now reckoned at about six days, though it 
may be longer. Buboes appear, generally in the groin and 
armpits, but sometimes elsewhere, about the second day of 
illness. Drowsiness and mental stupor are manifest from 
the outset, and the patient sometimes suggests a condition 
of intoxication. There is usually a high temperature, much 
fever, coughing, and at length delirium. Sometimes there is an 
outbreak of pustules on the skin, which possibly gave rise to 
the name of" the Black Death." Death occurs about the fifth 

267 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

or sixth day, though often much earher, but if the patient 
survives for twelve days recovery is probable. The mortality 
in bubonic cases in India has varied from 70 to 85 per cent. 
but has sometimes been appreciably higher. In pneumonic 
cases the infection is usually conveyed direct from man to 
man, through expectoration, or by inhalation of the patient's 
breath ; but in bubonic cases there is an intermediary host. 
It was demonstrated in India that this host was usually the 
rat and its parasites. 

The knowledge of the connection of rats with plague is 
as old as written history. The Philistines were told to 
" make images of your emerods (buboes), and images of 
your mice that mar the land." From the beginning of the 
Bombay epidemic, it was known that rats were associated 
with the infection, for it was noticed that they died in large 
numbers in the corn warehouses. The problem which soon 
presented itself to the investigators in India was : How is 
the infection transmitted from rat to rat, and from rat to 
man ? It occurred to numerous inquirers that some insect, 
probably a parasite of rats and possibly a rat flea, carried the 
infection from rat to rat, but though several inconclusive 
experiments were made the idea remained at first almost a 
mere theory. Various Continental investigators carried it 
much further, but it was reserved for the Indian Plague 
Research Commission to establish the rat-flea theory beyond 
all question by its elaborate and quite independent investi- 
gations at Bombay during 1905-6 and subsequent years. 

The common Indian rat flea is Pulex cheopis. It does 
not, as is frequently supposed, remain always on the body 
of the rat, but, like all rat fleas, frequents the rat's nest, 
only touching the rat when it wants to feed. Pulex cheopis 
seems quite invulnerable to plague. When it sucks blood 
from an infected rat it may imbibe as many as 5000 plague 
germs into its stomach. These germs multiply enormously 
in the stomach, and when the flea wants to feed again, if it 
takes blood from a healthy rat it may transmit the infection 

268 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

to it. A single flea can infect a rat, but more than one bite 
is usually necessary. Fleas at once desert a dead rat. If 
no other rats are near when the flea wants to feed once 
more, it will bite a human being, and may infect him. It 
is by this process that the bubonic form of plague is usually 
transmitted amongst mankind in India. It should be added 
that if a flea, after becoming infected, does not again bite an 
infected animal, its period of infectivity lasts from fifteen 
days to three weeks. By the end of that time its stomach 
has undergone a cleansing process, and the flea'^is free from 
plague germs. A large amount of evidence goes to prove 
that bubonic plague is rarely transmitted from man to man. 
The agent is almost invariably the rat flea, and the infection 
is from rat to man by means of the flea. Plague epidemics 
in India coincide with the season when rat fleas are 
most prevalent ; and this season varies in different parts 
of the country. At present one factor is not finally ex- 
plained. It is quite clear that the flea receives the 
plague bacilli into its stomach with the blood of its host. 
But when it inserts its " pricker " and mandibles into 
another animal, how does it infect it ? There is no complete 
answer to the problem. 

The rat most commonly found in India is the black rat, 
Mus rathis. It lives in close association with human dwel- 
lings, and is the chief source of infection. The bigger brown 
or Norwegian rat, 3Ius decumanus, which predominates in 
England, is rarely found in India except in a few of the 
larger ports. Both brown and black rats are equally sus- 
ceptible to plague ; but the reason why the black rat carries 
infection in India is that it is in constant contact with the 
people. In towns and villages alike, it burrows in the floors 
and walls of the houses, and finds in the grain stored in 
every house an ample supply of food. Even in the model 
tenements built in some of the great cities, and supposed to 
be rat-proof, the habits of the people attract rats. They 
keep their food on the floor or on rough shelves, and the 

269 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

rooms of the poor are littered with rubbish. Refuse is 
thrown into the streets in defiance of by-laws, and the rats 
thrive upon it. Even well-to-do Indians who have not 
adopted European habits sometimes keep cows and goats 
and fowls in their houses. In the villages these tendencies 
are accentuated. Animals are tethered in the courtyards. 
Fragments of grain are scattered everywhere, and wher- 
ever there is grain there are rats. Bare feet and legs 
increase the chances of infection; the religious injunction 
not to take life preserves the rats from attack. Rats and 
men live together, and that is why the plague spreads in 
India. 

In the first great plague epidemic in Bombay there w^ere 
a few European cases. After a time it was noticed that 
Englishmen did not seem very liable to contract plague. 
We thought it was due to the superior constitution of the 
white races, and consoled ourselves with the thought that 
we were mostly picked men in good health. We were not 
entirely wrong, because Europeans seem to recover from 
bubonic plague more frequently than Indians ; but for the 
most part it was pure delusion, as we realised long after- 
wards. The Englishman is probably just as liable to contract 
plague to-day as he was in the Middle Ages, so far as his 
physical organisation is concerned. The reason why English- 
men have rarely contracted plague in India is that they 
rarely come into contact with rats. Their exemption would 
disappear in the presence of an epidemic of pneumonic 
plague, in which the bacilli are conveyed by the breath 
from man to man. It is suspected that the Black Death 
was more largely pneumonic ; and it is further thought 
possible that human fleas may then have been agents of 
infection, though not now a factor of importance. 

No city in the world, not even Hong-Kong as it was in 
the old days, offered such a breeding-ground for the plague 
bacillus as Bombay did at the end of 1896. Outwardly " a 
city of palaces and palms," with a magnificent harbour and 

270 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

life-giving sea-breezes which never fail, it was nevertheless 
the home of an immense population living under the most 
unwholesome conditions. At the southern end of the island 
the native city had been crammed witliin restricted limits, 
not by official mandate, but by the greed of property- 
owners. Huge insanitary tenement houses had been erected, 
which almost rivalled the " sky-scrapers " of New York in 
her less aspiring days. Eighty per cent, of the million 
inhabitants were living in tenements of a single room ; and 
the average number of occupants of each room was four. 
Many of these rooms had neither light nor ventilation ; into 
them the sunlight could never penetrate ; large numbers of 
the houses were deliberately built back to back ; and in 
these noisome dens, with damp mud floors, rats and 
humanity swarmed. Bombay owed its plight to a rapid 
influx of population, to a great rise in land-values, and to 
defective building regulations inadequately administered by 
a Corporation which had inherited a situation with which it 
was unable to cope. When plague came there was a panic. 
I witnessed the scenes of that flrst mad exodus at the end 
of 1896, when the railway stations were crammed with 
people who fought for places in the trains, and when the 
roads of Salsette were thronged with fugitives fleeing from 
the pestilence, they knew not whither. By February 1897, 
it was calculated that 400,000 people had fled from the city, 
and they carried the plague with them. 

Yet the spread of plague throughout India was com- 
paratively slow. It was not recognised at Calcutta until 
April 1898. Though the first cases in the Punjab were 
detected in October 1897, the mortality in the province did 
not become serious until 1902. The United Provinces did 
not suffer very severely until 1904 and 190.5. The million 
limit in the plague mortality of all India in any single year 
was not passed until 1904, when 1,143,993 deaths from 
plague were recorded. Burma was not infected in an 
epidemic form until 190.5. The worst year in the Punjab 

271 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

was not reached until 1907. There were occasional fluctua- 
tions, and in 1908 the total recorded plague mortality 
throughout India dropped to 156,000, although in the pre- 
ceding year it had been 1,315,000. The present tendency 
is again upward, and for the six months ending June 1911 
the plague deaths numbered 650,000. 

The incidence of plague has been curiously unequal. 
Eastern Bengal and Assam have practically escaped alto- 
gether, probably because the conditions in the southern 
districts are unfavourable to rats. Bengal lost less than 
600,000 people from plague in twelve years, though fourth 
on the list of provinces affected. The Madras Presidency 
has always been comparatively free, though I doubt whether 
its escape is primarily due to its plague regulations, as is 
sometimes suggested. Neither the City nor the Presidency 
of Bombay have had a really bad plague year since 1904 ; in 
fact, plague has for some time ceased to have any marked 
effect upon the prosperity of the City of Bombay, whose 
recuperative powers have been marvellous. Its life-blood is 
rapidly replenished from the country districts. The worst 
sufferers in recent years have been the Punjab and the 
United Provinces, the Punjab most of all. The Punjab, 
including its native states, had lost over 2,250,000 people 
from plague by the end of 1910, out of a total population, 
as recorded in 1901, of under 22,000,000. These figures tell 
their own tale. The mortality in the Punjab has been 
greatest in the villages, but some of the towns have been 
badly affected also ; in 1907 the town of Dinga endured the 
phenomenal plague mortality of 119*20 per 1000. Com- 
parisons of the general and even the provincial statistics do 
not reveal the truth about plague, which can only be 
ascertained by examining the figures for particular districts. 

The appearance of plague in Bombay naturally found the 
authorities unprepared. They had to fight an almost un- 
known disease of which they had no experience. Under the 
direction of the Governor, Lord Sandhurst, a series of 

272 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

rigorous preventive and precautionary measures were 
gradually introduced. It has been alleged that if the 
Bombay Government had acted more promptly the spread 
of plague in India might have been averted. I do not 
believe that any human agency could have stopped plague 
from spreading, for the infection must have been in the city 
for some time before it was detected. The Bombay Govern- 
ment were far too slow in moving, but gradually they devised 
an elaborate system of house-to-house visitation, disinfection, 
evacuation of infected premises, health camps, and a scheme 
of land quarantine and medical inspection. In March 1898, 
there was a riot in Bombay among JNlahomedan weavers, 
several of whom were shot by the police. They were 
incensed by the plague restrictions, and they represented the 
general feeling among the native population, though their 
particular ebullition was due to a minor misunderstanding. 
The larger issue was that while rigorous measures can be 
adopted for a single epidemic, an enormous population 
cannot be subjected to vexatious railway quarantine, and 
endure endless interference with its movements and its 
liberty, for a whole generation. It became evident that 
plague would continue. Lord Sandhurst saw that milder 
methods must be adopted. He had in vain poured out 
money like water, and his Government were almost bank- 
rupt. In September 1898, he swept away the quarantine 
system, and substituted regulations of a palliative character, 
in which medical inspection of railway passengers found a 
prominent place. He said in his farewell speech that he 
meant to make no apology for his Administration, and it 
may be added that none was needed. Few Governors in 
India have had a more trying experience, for he had to fight 
famine as well ; and if his plague measures failed, it was 
because circumstances were too strong for him. None who 
came afterwards have done better, and their courage has not 
been tried in the same degree. 

The position when Lord Curzon arrived in 1899 was that 

273 S 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the experience of two years in the Bombay Presidency had 
demonstrated, first, that the struggle with plague was likely 
to be a long one, and second, that it was impossible to im- 
pede the free movement of many millions by harassing regu- 
lations which had not even the justification of efficacy. A 
Plague Commission, with Professor (afterwards Sir Thomas) 
Fraser at its head, had been sent out at the request of Lord 
Elgin, and was still perambulating the country. Mr. HafF- 
kine, an expert who had done much original research, had 
prepared a prophylactic fluid from sterilised virus of the 
disease, which was being tentatively employed for protec- 
tive inoculation. Plague was slowly spreading, though at 
that time still chiefly confined to the Bombay Presidency. 

The report of the Plague Commission appeared in sec- 
tions. It approved of Mr. Haffkine's prophylactic, which, 
it considered, conferred a limited degree of protection. It 
made many useful suggestions regarding the measures to 
be adopted in dealing with plague, but threw little real light 
upon the origin ot the disease and its method of dissemina- 
tion. The report as a whole was far too voluminous and 
overloaded with detail, and some of its conclusions are 
modified by later experience. Lord Curzon issued a Reso- 
lution in June 1900, in which he reviewed, and with few 
reservations accepted, such opinions of the Commission as 
were then available. He deprecated compulsory measures, 
preferring a policy of assistance and persuasion, such as 
Lord Sandhurst had already promulgated in Bombay. He 
restricted the practice of searching houses, disapproved of 
compulsory inoculation — which had rarely been resorted to 
— provided that removal to hospitals should not be compul- 
sory except in certain limited cases, laid down the principles 
on which infected villages were to be evacuated, and en- 
couraged disinfection. There were many other instructions, 
but the general purpose of the policy thus formulated was 
to discourage coercive measures, to invoke the co-operation 
of the people, and to consult the public convenience. It 

274 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

was a policy which may not commend itself to health autho- 
rities dealing with a European population, but it was the 
only possible policy in India at that critical juncture. It 
developed upon prudent principles the earlier policy of re- 
laxation adopted in Bombay, while it provided additional 
safeguards. Plague measures in India have ever since fol- 
lowed these lines, with such modifications as are from time 
to time thought necessary. 

Lord Curzon was not able to check the spread of plague ; 
no one could have done that ; but while doing all that was 
possible, he sought to prevent the exasperation of the people. 
A wise Egyptian pasha once said that "an Oriental popula- 
tion prefers death to worry," and that is the difficulty which 
confronts all plague officers in India. Even as it was, there 
had been occasional further outbreaks of public disapproval, 
and in April 1900, a mob attacked a plague camp at Cawn- 
pore and killed five policemen. Lord Curzon visited the 
plague- stricken areas in Bombay and Poona, inspected the 
plague hospitals, and personally investigated the operation 
of the preventive measures. After the Plague Commission 
had pronounced its benediction upon Mr. Haffkine's pro- 
phylactic, he tried to persuade the people to be inoculated. 
As an example, he and all his staff underwent inoculation on 
the eve of a visit to Bombay ; and irreverent under-secre- 
taries were afterwards wont to declare with a chuckle that 
the resultant rise of temperature was duly reflected in the 
Viceregal minutes during the next few days. In the middle 
of 1902, the rapid rise of plague mortality in the Punjab, 
together with the approaching assemblage of large crowds 
at the Delhi Durbar, caused the Punjab Government to 
adopt a scheme of inoculation upon an heroic scale. Six 
million people were to be inoculated, and a number of doctors 
were brought out from England to assist. The work began 
in October, and a month later nineteen persons inoculated 
from a single bottle at the village of Malkowal died of 
tetanus. The whole scheme was stopped, and inoculation 

275 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

has never really recovered from the unfortunate impression 
thus created. Though there were prolonged inquiries, and 
the usual amount of angry controversy among experts, 
no one knows to this day how the tetanus germs got into 
the vaccine used at Malkowal, and the opinions held on the 
subject are very varied. The general, if limited, efficacy of 
Mr. Haffkine's prophylactic has long been beyond dispute ; 
but in spite of the assiduous propaganda of Governors and 
Lieutenant-Governors, the people of India have not yet 
taken to it very kindly. On the other hand, they submit 
with great docility to vaccination against small-pox, wherein 
they set an example to the people of England. 

By far the most practical step undertaken by Lord 
Curzon with regard to plague was adopted by him in 1904. 
While in England he spoke to a friend of the gravity of the 
plague problem, and the conversation was recounted to 
Dr. C. J. Martin, F.R.S., the Director of the Lister 
Institute. Dr. Martin urged the necessity for further 
scientific inquiry into the natural history of the plague 
bacillus, and the manner in which the disease was spread. 
Hearing of this. Lord Curzon requested Dr. Martin to draw 
up a scheme of inquiry, with an estimate of cost. Mean- 
while Sir Charles Rivaz, the liieutenant-Governor of the 
Punjab, had, through the Government of India, been pressing 
upon the India Office the importance of further technical 
inquiry. The Secretary of State asked Dr. Martin to 
submit his scheme, and it was accepted. The scheme 
provided for the appointment of a small Plague Research 
Commission, consisting of trained bacteriologists from the 
Lister Institute and selected members of the Indian Medical 
Service ; and for the formation of an advisory committee 
consisting of representatives of the Royal Society and the 
Lister Institute, together with nominees of the Secretary of 
State, to control and scrutinise the work of the Commission. 
Dr. Martin went to India to start the operations, and 
the inquiries began early in 1905. The step should have 

276 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

been taken long before, but it was nearly nine years after 
plague was first detected at Bombay that the Government 
began to investigate upon a practical scientific basis its origin 
and mode of transmission. The Commission, which is still 
at work, has conducted one of the most comprehensive, 
compact, and successful pieces of scientific investigation ever 
undertaken by Englishmen. It has elucidated the rat-flea 
theory, which I have already described, and there are hopes 
that its further researches will produce results which should 
materially assist the war against plague. 

An immediate consequence of the discoveries of the 
Plague Research Commission was the stimulation of the 
crusade against rats, which had been prosecuted with varying 
intensity ever since the first epidemic. More recently, 
however, most provinces have limited their measures of 
rat destruction to selected areas at particular seasons. If 
plague, the most destructive agency known, does not 
materially reduce the number of rats, human endeavours 
must always be of limited avail. The recent experience of 
Manchuria suggests that a pneumonic outbreak is much 
more easily controlled than an epidemic in which the 
infection is transmitted by rats and fleas. The whole fight 
with bubonic plague in India remains unequal and some- 
what dispiriting, and it will probably so continue until 
science is able to furnish more efficient remedies for con- 
ferring immunity from the disease, and for its cure when 
contracted. The problem then will be to induce the people of 
India to use the remedies. The only other hope is that the 
disease may once more vanish of its own accord. Meanwhile 
it would be unjust to assume that the work now being done 
is of little avail. Mr. J. H. Du Bouluy once truly remarked 
in a plague report : " The lives that are lost arrest the 
attention ; no allowance is made for the lives that are 
saved." Had it not been for the efforts of the Government, 
the mortality would probably have been far larger. 

King Edward recalled the administrators of India from a 

277 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

certain apathy regarding plague in a message to Lord Minto 
in 1907, in which he said : " I am deeply moved when I 
think of the misery that has been borne with such silent 
patience in all those stricken homes." His Majesty struck a 
note which, in my belief, has perhaps met with insufficient 
response in India in recent years. My purpose in reciting, 
at the opening of this chapter, a few of the effects of plague 
upon England, was to suggest by analogy that the present 
visitation cannot have left some provinces of India unscarred. 
The comparison is very inexact, because the proportion of 
mortality in England was infinitely greater. Experienced 
officers have sometimes told me that in their opinion plague 
leaves surprisingly little impression upon India. Their 
argument is that in such a teeming population pestilence has 
no very abiding result. I am bound to say that my own 
experience leads to very much the same conclusion. I lived 
for a considerable number of years in a city from which 
plague was never absent. I have seen the clerk seized at 
his desk, the servant stretched dead at my gate, the dis- 
appearance of one famihar face after another. I have even, 
when playing golf, seen a woman stagger and fall upon the 
green as I approached it, and die of plague before she could 
be moved. Yet after the first mad terror was over the city 
waxed busy, and grew, and all the thronging funerals never 
seemed to give more than a momentary check to its feverish 
prosperity. I sometimes wonder whether we Englishmen 
judge the situation correctly, and whether plague has not 
had a deeper effect upon some parts of India than we are 
able to discern. If you live long in the presence of a great 
infliction, it becomes commonplace, and ceases to impress. 
I know now why men who have endured a protracted siege 
dislike to talk about it, why the historians of past centuries 
say so little about plague, although they dwelt in its midst. 
There came a time when we were wearied of the very name 
of plague, and looked with dull indifference on the flames of 
death aglow. 

278 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

I fancy that to discover the true effects of plague, one 
must go, not to the larger cities, which fill up quickly after 
an epidemic, but to the villages. There is very little 
evidence either way in the Government reports. They 
speak occasionally of the scarcity of labour and the rise of 
prices. On the other hand, it is said that in the Bombay 
Presidency the position of the surviving labourers has 
materially improved, exactly as occurred in England in the 
fourteenth century. The people with small fixed incomes are 
believed to have suffered. In some ways plague has been a 
blessing in disguise. It has given a vast impetus to sanitary 
measures all over India. Above all, it is producing a 
complete transformation of the City of Bombay. The 
operations of the great Improvement Scheme initiated by 
Lord Sandhurst — Lord Curzon specially attended the in- 
augural ceremony — continued by Lord Northcote and Lord 
Lamington, and now being resolutely developed by Sir 
George Clarke, the present Governor, are changing the face 
of the city. The foul rookeries are being swept away, wide 
new thoroughfares are being driven through the native 
quarters, and the miserable dwellers in squalid dens are 
regaining their birthright of sunlight and sweet air. In 
all the years I spent in India I saw nothing to me so 
terrible as the daily sight of all those vast fetid breeding- 
houses of death, within earshot of murmuring waves telling 
of five hundred leagues of wind-sw^ept sunlit ocean. Many 
of these structures have now^ disappeared for ever, though 
much still remains to be done. What the real effect of 
plague has been upon India I am unable to estimate, and 
I think the question needs further inquiry ; but certain it 
is that from her bitter adversity the City of Bombay has 
emerged with renewed heart of grace, and is fashioning the 
Gate of India afresh with all the unconquerable hope of 
the Middle Ages. 



279 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

II. THE GREAT FAMINE 

The widespread drought of 1911 in England enabled the 
people of this country to form, from their own experience, 
some slight conception of the magnitude of the calamity 
which befalls India when the rains fail. So far as I am 
aware, no one had the temerity to hold the Government 
responsible for the shrinking brooks, the grain that withered 
in the ear, the stock that had to be sold through lack of 
pasture, and the rise of prices that caused the effect of the 
drought to be felt in every English home. When the 
plains of Australia are whitening with the bones of count- 
less flocks of sheep, it never occurs to any Australian to 
blame the Commonwealth Ministry, It has always been to 
me a mystery that a single sensible Englishman could be 
found ready to give ear to the foolish charge that British 
rule in India has in any way contributed either to produce 
famines or to render the people of India less able to resist 
them than they were before. There is no single aspect 
of the British control of India upon which impartial 
investigation can more confidently be challenged ; and I 
may add that nothing redounds more to the credit of the 
Government of India than the success with which they have 
gradually evolved a system of dealing with the conditions 
caused by scarcity, a system admirable in conception, almost 
automatic in its operation, and unfailing in its efficacy. 

A recent book by Sir Theodore Morison, entitled " The 
Economic Transition in India," does more to destroy a 
certain series of fallacies about India than any volume with 
which I am acquainted. One of the subjects discussed is 
famine. He shows that in England there were periodical 
famines — " by reason of the intemperateness of the weather," 
as the Mayor of Plymouth quaintly put it — until the growth 
of overseas navigation in the time of Elizabeth placed the 
country in a position of permanent security. France re- 
peatedly suffered from famine until the end of the eighteenth 

280 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

century ; the principal reason was that the means of trans- 
port were inefficient, and the pinch was felt most in districts 
far from the sea. India has been subject to recurring 
famine throughout her long history. No famine of modern 
times is comparable to the horrors recorded during such 
visitations under native rule, when " the highways were full 
of dead bodies," and " the flesh of a son was preferred to his 
love." Sir Theodore Morison holds that the use of the 
term " famine " in India is now " an anachronism and a 
misnomer." He says : 

" The true meaning of the word ' famine ' (according to 
the Oxford Dictionary) is ' extreme and general scarcity of 
food ' ; this phenomenon has entirely passed away. Wide- 
spread death from starvation, which the word may be held 
to connote, has also ceased. Death from starvation is 
indeed extremely rare, even in those districts which are 
officially described as famine-stricken. ' Famine ' now means 
a prolonged period of unemployment, accompanied by dear 
food, and this is undoubtedly an economic calamity which 
inflicts great hardship upon the working classes in India, as 
it would in any country. The hardship is reflected in an 
enhanced death-rate ; the degree of enhancement is deter- 
mined by the efficiency of the measures for the relief of the 
unemployed." 

Under native rule, the repeated devastation of the 
country by internal wars, and the frequent interludes of 
misgovernment, intensified the results of drought ; and 
there was no organised system of famine relief. Under 
British rule, a new complication has been presented by the 
rapid increase of the population. It is not always realised 
that in the last forty years the population of India has 
increased by over a hundred millions. On the other hand, 
the great development of railways within the same period 
has immensely simplified the problem of the distribution of 
food in famine areas. 

There have been five great famines in India since the 

281 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

country passed under Crown control after the Mutiny, and 
the last, in Lord Curzon's time, was by far the greatest. 
The first, in 1865-67, was chiefly confined to Orissa, in 
Eastern India ; it should be remembered that a famine 
extending throughout the whole of India is not only 
unknown, but is almost inconceivable. The Orissa famine 
caused a heavy mortality, because at that period the district 
had few means of communication. The relief arrangements 
were at first inadequate, and afterwards, when it was too 
late, over-profuse. The second was in Behar, and some 
adjacent districts of Bengal, in 1873-74, and on that occasion 
famine relief on modern lines was first instituted, though at 
enormous and wasteful cost. The third was the great 
Madras famine of 1876-78, which affected the major portion 
of Southern India, including many districts outside the Madras 
Presidency. The distinguishing features of the Madras 
famine were the institution of tests in the shape of famine 
works, and a general rigour in the administration of relief 
which was probably unduly harsh. The Government of 
India upon that occasion made the memorable declaration 
that " we say that human life shall be saved at any cost and 
effort," and that " there are no circumstances in which aid 
can be refused." Afterwards a Famine Commission, pre- 
sided over by Sir Richard Strachey, laid down the funda- 
mental principles upon which relief was to be distributed in 
future. Employment was to be given on rehef works to 
the able-bodied, at a wage sufficient for support, on the 
condition of performing a suitable task ; and gratuitous 
relief was to be given, in their villages or in poor-houses, to 
those who were unable to work. Constant inspection of 
the people in their villages was made the basis of famine 
organisation. The Government of India stated in 1883 that 
the famine wage was to be '* the lowest amount sufficient to 
maintain health under given circumstances. While the duty 
of Government is to save life, it is not bound to maintain 
the labouring population at its normal level of comfort." 

282 






PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

The fourth great famine has been already mentioned in 
my opening chapter. It occurred in 1896-97> during Lord 
Elgin's Administration, and was chiefly felt in the United 
Provinces, the Central Provinces, Behar, Bombay, and 
portions of the Punjab. In the Central Provinces the 
difficulties of relief were very great, and the famine opera- 
tions were on the whole defective. A Famine Commission 
was afterwards appointed, under the presidency of Sir James 
Lyall, and its report had just been prepared when Lord 
Curzon landed. It was one of the first pieces of business 
with which he had to deal. The Commission adhered 
broadly to the principles laid down after the Madras famine, 
but recommended a freer extension of gratuitous relief, 
and a more liberal wage to famine workers. 

Before the Commission's recommendations could be 
finally considered, it became apparent that another famine 
was impending. The south-west monsoon of 1899 failed 
almost completely. The people of Western and Central 
India panted beneath brazen skies, and watched in vain for 
the rain which never came, and by October it was manifest 
that the position was such as the British in India had never 
before been called upon to face. The deficiency in the rain- 
fall was without precedent. Sir John Eliot, the Government 
Meteorologist, afterwards estimated that the drought of 
1899 was *'the greatest in extent and in intensity which 
India has experienced during the last 200 years." The area 
affected was over 475,000 square miles, with a population of 
25,000,000 in British territory, and 30,000,000 in native 
states. The British provinces within the famine area 
included the greater part of the Bombay Presidency, much 
of the Punjab, and the whole of the Central Provinces and 
Berar ; in the native states the famine stretched from 
Hyderabad to Kathiawar, including Baroda and all 
Rajputana and Central India. The rich province of 
Gujerat, which had known no famine for a century, was left 
desolate. Sir Thomas Holderness has calculated that the 

283 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

loss in crops alone amounted to £50,000,000 in British 
India, and £30,000,000 in native states. To the failure of 
the crops was added a failure of the water-supply in many 
areas, while the Bombay Presidency and numbers of native 
states suffered from a fodder famine. Cattle died in millions, 
and the famous breeds of Gujerat were almost wiped out. 
A new cause of death began to figure in the mortality 
returns. The clerks described it as "trefall." It repre- 
sented the deaths of unfortunate men who had fallen from 
trees while gathering the withered leaves in the vain hope 
of saving their cattle. Sir Antony (now Lord) INlacdonnell 
has pointed out that the visitation was peculiar, because 
over large areas the conditions were those of scarcity rather 
than famine ; but the failure of water and fodder intensified 
the distress in these areas. Swarms of people from the 
native states sought refuge in British territory, because 
the relief conditions were more attractive ; and another un- 
usual feature was the extent of the privation among the 
jungle tribes. The strain was specially intense in the 
Central Provinces, which had not recovered from the dire 
experiences of 1897. 

In October 1900, Lord Curzon summed up some of the 
special characteristics of the famine in a vivid passage in 
which he said : 



" It was not merely a crop failure, but a fodder famine 
on an enormous scale, followed in many parts by a positive 
devastation of cattle — both plough cattle, buffaloes, and 
milch kine. In other words, it affected, and may almost 
be said to have annihilated, the working capital of the 
agricultural classes. It struck some of them when they 
were still down from the effects of the recent shock. It 
struck others, who had never before known what calamity 
was, and who were crushed and shattered by the suddenness 
and directness of the blow. It attacked native states, to 
whose Durbars had never previously been brought home 
the obligation of famine relief on an extended scale, and 

284 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

whose dearth of administrative staff was enhanced by the 
poverty of their financial resources. It laid its hand upon 
primitive hillmen, unused to discipline or restraint, impul- 
sive, improvident, lazy, living in an almost barbarous state 
in wild and inaccessible jungles. It sharpened the lurking 
nomadic instinct of wandering tribes, and sent them aim- 
lessly drifting about the country, a terror to the famine 
officer, and an incubus to the camps. For a year it never 
left hold of its victims ; and one-half of the year had not 
elapsed before famine had brought its familiar attendant 
Furies in its train, and cholera, dysentery, and fever had 
fallen upon an already exhausted, enfeebled population. 
This is the picture of suffering that India has presented 
during the past year." 



The full results of an Indian famine take some time to 
develop. The rush for aid does not set in the moment the 
rains fail. The real stress begins about October or November, 
it increases by the following January, and it reaches its 
greatest height immediately before the rainy season of the 
following year. When the rains fall the people are able to 
disperse to sow their crops ; but in the last month or two of 
hot weather, the danger of cholera is very great. On this 
occasion the growth of famine relief was exceptionally rapid. 
By January 3,500,000 people were working on the relief 
works, or were otherwise in receipt of relief ; and at the end 
of July 1900, over 6,500,000 were being relieved. There 
was no parallel in the history of India, or in that of any 
other country in the world, said Lord Curzon, to the num- 
bers who had for weeks on end been dependent on the 
charity of the Government. 

In his tour in the late autumn of 1899, Lord Curzon 
visited many of the centres of distress. In his investiga- 
tions in the Bombay Presidency, he found occasion to 
administer a sharp reproof to officials responsible for a some- 
what illiberal scale of relief in Gujerat. On the other hand, 
he considered it necessary to check the unstinted outpouring 

285 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of aid in the Central Provinces, where recollections of the 
still recent criticisms of the Famine Commission seemed to 
have prompted too lavish doles. A certain flexibility must 
always accompany the distribution of relief. " I am not," 
said the Viceroy on his return to Calcutta, " one of those 
who regard famine relief as an exact science." On January 16, 
1900, he presided at a meeting in the Calcutta Town Hall 
to open a Famine Relief Fund, and made a stirring appeal 
which met with a ready response. The time was unfavour- 
able, for India had not recovered from the last famine, while 
the United Kingdom was preoccupied with the Boer War. 
Nevertheless, India subscribed over £200,000, and the collec- 
tions in other countries amounted to £785,000, of which 
sum the United Kingdom sent £577,000. The City of 
Glasgow alone contributed over £53,000, and £28,000 came 
from Liverpool, in addition to £106,000 from the rest of 
Lancashire. Australasia subscribed £50,000, while the hand- 
some contribution from Germany, and the sympathetic 
message from the Emperor William which accompanied it, 
are still remembered in India, It should be noted that the 
United Kingdom had already subscribed the huge sum of 
£820,000 at the time of the famine of three years earlier. 

Perhaps it may not be understood why private charity is 
needed to supplement the efforts of the Government in time 
of famine. The reason is that there are many things which 
the Government, engrossed with the single task of saving 
life, are unable to do. The charitable funds go to providing 
clothing and blankets for the sufferers, especially after the 
rains arrive ; to furnishing medical comforts for the sick ; 
to the relief and sustenance of orphans ; to helping poor 
women in purdah, who would die rather than appear in 
public seeking aid ; and, chief object of all, to purchasing 
seed, cattle, fodder, and implements in order to give a fresh 
start in life to such of the peasantry as are not reached by 
Government advances. 

The telegrams exchanged between the German Emperor 

286 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

and the Viceroy in May 1900 were so unusual and so 
interesting that they may well be quoted. The German 
Emperor telegraphed on May 3 : 

*' Full of the deepest sympathy for the terrible distress in 
India, Berlin has, with my approval, realised a sum of over 
half a million of marks. I have ordered it to be forwarded 
to Calcutta to be placed at your Excellency's disposal. 
May India feel in this action on the part of the capital of 
the German Empire a deep sense of the sympathetic love for 
India which prompted my people, and which emanates from 
the fact that ' blood is thicker than water.' " 

The Viceroy replied on May 4 : 

" I have the honour to receive your Imperial Majesty's 
most gracious telegram, the terms of which will create a 
thrill of gratitude throughout India for the warm-hearted 
and sympathetic attitude of your capital of Berlin, acting 
upon the opportune and noble initiative of your Imperial 
Majesty. It is indeed an illustration of the binding force of 
kinship, as testified by your Majesty, that the German 
people should turn a kind thought to the work being done 
by the British Government in this country for the relief of 
the terrible suffering with which the poor Indian people are 
afflicted. On their behalf I venture to acknowledge the 
generous action of your Imperial Majesty and the most 
munificent contribution of your people." 

At the end of July 1900, Lord Curzon, accompanied by 
Mr. (now Sir) Walter Lawrence and others, started in fierce 
heat upon another famine tour through the worst districts 
of Gujerat, where they met Lord Northcote, the Governor 
of Bombay, who was also investigating conditions on the 
spot. It was the most critical moment of the famine. 
The monsoon was due, and some rain had fallen, but the 
people swarmed on the relief works, and the cholera had 
been raging. In more than one camp visited by the 
Viceroy the sufferers were still dying from cholera. While 

287 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the tour was in progress rain set in heavily, and the whole 
region was changed into a slough. One extract from an 
account of a visit to a famine camp under these conditions 
must suffice as a type of several such visits. It describes a 
halt at Dohad, in the Panch Mahals, on August 1 : 

" Fine rain was falling when the Viceroy started on 
horseback. . . . The drizzle increased steadily to a down- 
pour. The roads were in a frightful state, and the horses 
had difficulty in keeping their feet. Having forded the 
river the tank work was reached, and the party dismounted 
in pools of water. A scramble over the hund and a tramp 
through the gluey mud brought the visitors to the camp. 
A sad sight greeted Lord Curzon and those with him on 
entering. Overnight a famine-stricken Bhil, driven at last 
to Government work by starvation, had died on reaching 
his destination. In spite of the weather a complete tour of 
the camp was made. . . . Wet to the skin, the party pre- 
pared to return. JNIeanwhile, however, every gutter became 
a stream, and the river was so swollen that it was impossible 
to ford. A long detour had to be made, and the party had 
to ride over a country dangerous at first and doubly so 
now." 

The Pioneer, in summing up the results of the tour, 
said : 

" The victims of famine and pestilence gain the belief 
that a mysterious power will work for their good, and that 
a great change will suddenly take place. We know that 
the heavy rain which deluged the famine tracts in Gujerat 
during Lord Curzon's short tour, and the almost continuous 
rainfall since, have been regarded by the people as the direct 
result of the ' Lord Sahib's ' appearance on the scene, and for 
generations to come the story will be told of the miracle 
that he worked. To attempt to disturb the simple belief of 
the ignorant villager would be vain ; has he not patent facts 
to justify him in the faith that he holds ? If the policy of 
the rulers of India is to inspire faith among the masses, then 
it may be claimed that Lord Curzon has gone far to create 

288 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

a good political effect by his recent tour, not merely in 
Gujerat itself, but all over India, for his movements have 
been faithfully chronicled in the native Press, his benevolent 
spirit has been applauded, and there is unquestionably a 
wide feeling of satisfaction that he put aside all other public 
duties for the moment in order to devote his time to one 
special object. . . . 

"Lord Curzon did not merely content himself with 
halting at this and that station and summoning the famine 
staff to his railway carriage. With his characteristic energy 
and desire to know everything in detail, he went con- 
scientiously into the camps and hospitals, seeing with his 
own eyes how the people fared and how the operations for 
their relief were carried out. If he had to ride through 
pelting rain and wade in deep mud, any feeling of personal 
discomfort was outweighed by the thought that the long- 
continued drought had come to an end, and that his 
presence was hailed as that of a god who had commanded 
the rain to fall." 

The view of the native Press is sufficiently attested by 
the following remarkable extract from the Indian Mirroi^ 
of August 12, 1900: 

** Who says that in this prosaic age of infidelity Divine 
intercession has ceased to work, or that there is no Divine 
appreciation of human goodness ? Our noble Viceroy in- 
tensely wished that the famine must cease, and the long- 
delayed rains come. Such a wish is a prayer. And the 
prayer has been granted. Lord Curzon started to visit the 
dry and burnt plains of Gujerat, but he had scarcely done 
so when the rain fell in torrents, and his prayer was granted 
even into the full. Take yet another instance of Divine 
intervention in human affairs. A Bombay telegram says : 
' The Mahi river in the Panch Mahals is in flood owing to 
the heaviness of rains, and the railway line is six feet under 
water. Curiously enough, the line was covered just after the 
Viceroy had passed over it from Dohad, bnt the water subsided 
before his return, and no sooner had he passed than it 
ROSE again ! ' The man who telegraphed this remarkable 

289 T 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

news used the word * curious.' That is what any materiaUst 
would do. But here to our mind is a double proof of 
Divine intervention. The gods have begun to bless Lord 
Curzon. May the blessing light also upon the millions 
whom the Viceroy loves, and seeks to serve and succour ! " 

[The italics and capital letters are as originally printed.] 

The cost of the famine to the Indian Exchequer was 
very great. The amount expended in direct relief was 
£6,670,000. A further sum of £1,585,000 was spent in 
loans and advances to landholders and cultivators, and only 
half of this sum was ever recovered. Land revenue was 
remitted to the extent of £1,333,000. The loans to native 
states amounted to over £1,800,000, exclusive of guarantees 
given for loans obtained in the open market. The states 
are believed to have expended in relief and to have lost in 
revenue a sum exceeding £4,000,000. I cannot pause to 
discuss in detail the special aspects of the famine in the 
native states, nor can I recount the elaborate measures 
adopted to deal with the fodder famine. The cattle of 
Gujerat were saved from extinction by the prompt munifi- 
cence of Lord and Lady Northcote. Lord Northcote estab- 
lished a cattle [farm at Chharodi, and sent Mr. Mollison, 
then Director of Agriculture in Bombay, to collect the pick 
of the dying herds. The best breed was so nearly extinct 
that for a long time only three bulls could be found which 
were worthy of preservation ; and about 300 cows were 
gradually collected. Subsidiary cattle camps were after- 
wards formed, but out of the 2,000,000 splendid cattle of 
Gujerat only about 9000 in all were saved. Lord Northcote 
did many beneficent things during his period of office in 
Bombay, but nothing he did is held in more grateful 
remembrance than his salvation of the cattle in Gujerat. 

The deeds done in the 1900 famine are worthy of epic 
narration. To tell them fully would take volumes, and in 
what I h^ve said I have barely touched the fringe of a vast 

290 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

and moving story. I have not sketched a tithe of the 
measures in that tremendous campaign against death, with 
the lives of nearly 60,000,000 people at stake, which 
engrossed the energies of the whole Administration, from 
the Viceroy downwards. And what of the men ? Let Sir 
Frederic Lelj, who bore the brunt of the fight in Gujerat, 
an administrator who knew more of the people of the 
province and was better beloved than any civilian of his 
time, give just one passing glimpse : 

" There was Maneklal Narbheram, who went a healthy 
vigorous man to the Wagra taluka of the district of Broach, 
and for six months never spared himself night or day, and 
then returned, a wreck, to die a year afterwards. A brave 
and steadfast man who knew what was before him and did 
it. There was Mulligan, Presbyterian missionary, who when 
the head of the district was in sore need of strong men 
volunteered to help and was put in charge of a thousand 
persons on a relief work, on whom cholera had already taken 
hold. There was Mawhinney, also Presbyterian missionary, 
who undertook a similar trust in the adjoining native state 
of Sunth. Each of them took up his abode among the 
people in a hut like their own ; he restored order and 
cleanliness ; he instilled some of his own courage ; and then 
each within a month of the other was stricken with the 
disease from which he had saved others, and died the death 
of a Christian. 

*' There was Thompson of the Church Missionary 
Society, who had sole charge of a large district of Bhils in 
the native states of Northern Gujerat. He was worn out 
with his heavy burden, and he was seized with cholera when 
thirty-five miles away from the nearest European, surrounded 
only by his faithful Bhils. They tried to carry him to head- 
quarters, but on the way he told them to stop under a tree, 
and there he died. As a comrade wrote afterwards, ' he 
loved his Bhils and they loved him ; he^has been true to 
them in his death andjthey to him.' 

" Lastly, there was Jenkins, a Civil Engineer in the 
Public Works Department, who was in charge of works in 

291 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the Panch Mahals. He was lying in his house with high fever 
upon him, when word was brought that a certain work would 
soon be stopped and the people dispersed if further align- 
ment were not made. He got up and travelled to the place, 
and did what was needed, and then returned, with his illness, 
of course, much aggravated. In two days he, too, was dead. 
" I make no apology for mentioning these names, for the 
blood of such men is the seed — and the sap — of Empire." 

There were many such. Indian and Englishman, they 
died together. When I hear Secretaries and Under- 
Secretaries of State telling civil servants that they must 
be sympathetic and not arrogant, when I hear Anglo- 
Indians slandered by people who have spent a month in 
India, when I hear missionaries denounced as " idle loafers," 
I think of these things, and of all the brave and kindly 
Englishmen and Englishwomen whom I have seen bear- 
ing with fortitude exile and the trials of climate in lonely 
places in the tropics, eager for the better welfare of those 
around them, and beloved by the people in their turn. 
Such stories as I have quoted are legion. One comes 
to my mind as I write, of that same famine of 1900. 
Martin Wood, a young Bombay civilian who has since 
passed away, was in charge of the district of Jambusar, in 
Gujerat. The district was smitten so heavily with cholera 
that the people fell into a panic, and began to fly in terror. 
To give them confidence, and to save them from wandering 
about the country-side to die of hunger, Martin Wood had 
his meals served in the middle of the rough cholera hospital, 
amid the dead and dying. The expedient was a strange one, 
but when the people saw he was not afraid they took courage 
also, and the panic was stayed. Only those who have seen 
a cholera camp can appreciate fully the nerve of this 
solitary Englishman, with 80,000 people in his charge. The 
late R. B. Stewart, Wood's senior officer, did equally brave 
work, and buried the cholera corpses with his own hands 
when the " sweepers " had fled. 

292 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

I do not wish to be misunderstood. Unfortunately 
there is sometimes ample room for criticism regarding the 
relations between Anglo-Indians and Indians, in specific 
cases. I only protest against indiscriminate denunciation, 
and still more against well-meaning advice from those in 
high place, couched in such general terms that it conveys a 
wrong impression to the British public. And when we are 
distributing sympathy, let us not forget the claims of the 
men and women who are doing the work of England in 
these alien lands. I recommend a perusal of the annual 
speeches made by Ministers in introducing the Indian 
Budget in recent years, together with the volume of 
speeches upon India published by Lord Morley. There is 
a great deal of excellent but somewhat ingenuous advice as 
to how public servants in India should comport themselves ; 
but of sympathy and encouragement in their task of extra- 
ordinary difficulty, hardly a word, save passing references 
by the Master of Elibank and the late Mr. Buchanan. 

There is some difficulty in arriving at a correct estimate 
of the mortality caused by the famine of 1900. Careful 
calculations showed that " the toll taken by the famine in 
British districts was about one million and a quarter lives." 
Of these, about a quarter of a million were believed to be 
refugees from native states ; and it was further estimated 
that at least one-fifth of these deaths was due to cholera. 
The number of those who died in native states will never be 
accurately known. Sir Thomas Holderness, who had much 
to do with the control of famine operations in 1897 and 
1900, and who did a great amount of work which was not 
less valuable because it was chiefly conducted from head- 
quarters, has made calculations based on the census returns 
He points out that in 1891 the native states affected by the 
famine had a population of 42,000,000, while in 1901 they 
were found to have a population of only 36,000,000. The 
decline during the decade was 14j per cent., whereas in the 
states not visited by famine the population increased by 

293 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

over 12 per cent. Sir Thomas Holderness says : " That the 
famine of 1900 is the chief cause of these very different 
results can hardly be doubted." At the same time, he 
observes that it would be unsafe to found on them any close 
calculation as to the actual excess mortality due to famine ; 
and it may be added that in the states of Western India 
plague contributed a considerable quota of deaths. 

Lord Curzon remarked that to say that the greater part 
of the people who died in British India had " died of starva- 
tion or even destitution, would be an unjustifiable exaggera- 
tion." Sir Thomas Holderness confirmed this statement, 
pointing out that in the Central Provinces, where relief was 
so liberal that a starving person was unknown, there was 
nevertheless a considerable excess of mortality from fevers 
and other diseases, especially in the rainy season of 1900. 
Sir Antony Macdonnell went into the question very closely, 
and pointed out that dysentery and diarrhoea are peculiarly 
famine diseases, directly caused by insufficient or unwhole- 
some food or by reduced powers of digestion and assimila- 
tion as the result of continued privation ; and further, that 
at such times the unusual fatality of fevers is owing to the 
reduced power of the people to resist them, largely due to 
famine. Mr. Harcourt Butler mentions, among contribu- 
tory causes, " the extremely unhealthy autumn in 1900, 
during which malarial fever attacked the rich as well as the 
poor." Upon the evidence available, 1 should say that there 
were probably comparatively few deaths from actual starva- 
tion in British India ; but I think there must have been 
many such deaths in native states, where, although consider- 
able help was given, the famine administration was rarely 
under direct British control. For instance, there was an 
enormous migration of the people of Western Rajputana 
with their families and cattle in search of pasture, far in 
excess of the movement which takes place every year ; 
and it was officially stated that in passing back through 
Ajmere, " they flooded the poorhouses and hospitals, and 

294 






PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

died in numbers along the roads and in the fields." Lord 
Curzon himself said that the mortality in the native states 
had in many cases been shocking, but added that "the 
Government of India cannot be held responsible for a system 
which it does not control." He acknowledged, however, 
'* the efforts, in many cases most praiseworthy, made by 
native states to relieve their people." 

A small Commission, presided over by Sir Antony 
Macdonnell, was afterwards appointed to inquire into the 
results of the famine operations. It came to the conclusion 
that the relief distributed was excessive, and that the excess 
was accounted for " by an imperfect enforcement of tests on 
relief works, by a too ready admission to gratuitous relief, 
and by a greater readiness on the people's part to accept 
rehef owing to the demoralising influences of the preceding 
famine." At any rate these were faults on the right side. 
The Commission made various recommendations for the 
further revision of the Famine Codes, including the replace- 
ment of the minimum wage by payment by task-work for 
the able-bodied, and the provision of rules for dealing with 
a fodder famine. The Codes were revised during Lord 
Curzon's Administration in accordance with these recom- 
mendations, and it is probable that to-day the machinery 
for dealing with famine is almost as perfect as human 
ingenuity can devise. The Codes were tested with great 
success by Sir John Hewett in the serious famine in 19 
districts of the United Provinces in 1907-8, when 1,400,000 
persons were at one time in receipt of relief; and it cannot 
be doubted that they will prove equal to the strain likely to 
be imposed by the partial failure of the monsoon of 1911. 
As an instance of Indian munificence, it should not be 
forgotten that during the famine of 1900 the Maharajah of 
Jaipur gave a sum of £140,000, which, with other contribu- 
tions, has since been formed into an endowment fund for 
the provision of charitable relief during famine. 

295 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

III. IRRIGATION 

Intimately associated with the question of famine in 
India is the problem of irrigation ; yet the connection is not 
so close as is commonly supposed, and often ignorantly 
alleged, because most of the irrigation works which will 
serve as a protection against famine have already been 
made, and the untouched area to which irrigation can be 
successfully apphed is distinctly limited. The irrigation 
system of India is already by far the largest in the world, 
and, in particular, is very much greater than that of Egypt. 
Though irrigation was extensively practised under native 
rule, it has been enormously developed by the British, who 
have made nearly all the great works now existing. Yet it 
is the side of British administration which is least noticed 
by the visitor ; and inquirers who spend weeks in close 
association with Indian politicians rarely go to see the 
irrigation areas. The only good book on Indian irrigation 
was written twenty years ago by Mr. Alfred Deakin, 
formerly Prime Minister of the Australian Commonwealth. 
Though out of date, it is still a fascinating volume, not only 
by reason of the information it contains about irrigation, 
but still more for its general observations upon Indian 
conditions. Mr. Deakin mentions that he was "the first 
civilian unconnected with the Government who had ever 
taken the pains to visit the Sirhind Canal, and other 
important works, which should be the admiration of 
thousands." He regards the irrigation system as " a 
monument to the sagacity, ability and magnanimity of 
British rulers." 

Few experiences are more startling or more stimulating 
than to pass on a hot October morning from the confines of 
the Indian desert into an irrigated area. The train rattles 
onward through a region of rolling sandhills, yellow and 
glaring and desolate. The sandhills are dotted with camel- 
thorn bushes, and sometimes with clumps of tamarisk scrub, 

296 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

whose dull pink blossom gives the only alternative touch of 
colour to the dreary landscape. At rare intervals a few 
rude huts are passed, and one wonders how the handful of 
men and women and their few miserable animals find 
sustenance in that wilderness. The very stations are mere 
structures of mud, innocent of platforms, and look as though 
they were dumped down at random in utter aimlessness. 
Clouds of fine sand whirl about the train, and the dust 
envelops like a pall. You marvel at the grim determination 
which could build a railway in such an Arabia Petrea. 

Suddenly, and in a flash, the whole world changes before 
your Feyes. You are whirled into the midst of a new 
country, green and smiling and refreshing. There is no 
gradual alteration, no previous hint of the coming transfor- 
mation. The transition is abrupt and instantaneous. The 
line of demarcation is more clearly marked than a frontier. 
At one moment, the desert ; the next, a lush and fruitful 
land, with tall crops swaying in the breeze, and gleams of 
cool water, and prosperous villages with well-fed people and 
ample flocks and herds, and everywhere right away to the 
distant horizon, the greenness that betokens bountiful 
harvests and rich prospective stores of grain. Thus does 
the irrigation engineer perform miracles in a region of thirst 
and aridity. The soil is precisely the same as that of the 
desert you have traversed. Only a few years ago it was 
desert also, and its single product was camel-thorn bushes. 
But by using old channels, and cutting new ones, water 
from hundreds of miles away has been poured into the dry 
places, and they have become a veritable Promised Land. 
Water was all they needed ; the precious sunlight does the 
rest ; and it does the heart good to see the water streaming 
along its appointed courses, irrigating the parched soil, 
making the desert a place of plenty, attracting crowds of 
prosperous colonists, causing villages to spring up as though 
by magic. 

The benefits conferred by irrigation are so vivid and 

:297 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

obvious that the enthusiasm they arouse almost inevitably 
becomes too unrestrained. Many irrigation engineers are 
prone to this pardonable predilection. General Sir Arthur 
Cotton, the apostle of modern scientific irrigation in India, 
the constructor of three magnificent systems of deltaic irri- 
gation in Madras, developed in later years an exaggerated 
belief in the advantages of water-ways. He even urged the 
entire abandonment of trunk railways in favour of navigable 
canals, and told a Parliamentary Committee that he believed 
it would be cheaper to convey goods from Calcutta to 
Madras by an inland canal than by sea. He wanted the 
Government to discourage the digging of private wells 
because the practice might injure his scheme of universal 
irrigation. Ill-regulated advocacy of this kind was at one 
time a source of serious embarrassment to the Government 
of India. A quite uninformed agitation in favour of whole- 
sale irrigation in India reached its height about the time 
Lord Curzon became Viceroy. Many worthy people 
honestly believed that if the Government of India would 
only adopt irrigation on a sufficiently grandiose scale, the 
problem of famine would be solved for ever ; and they 
cherished the conviction that it was some maleficent but 
undiscoverable influence in favour of railways which caused 
the authorities to waste money on steel rails, and incidentally 
to sacrifice millions of lives which might have been saved. 
The real cause was, as I have stated, that there are clear 
limits to the possibilities of irrigation in India, and that in 
any case irrigation is not such a simple matter as the agitators 
fancied. It is a highly scientific process, accompanied by 
many difficulties, chief among which is the danger of water- 
logging the soil, and thereby producing disease. It has even 
been argued — I know not with what justification — that 
irrigation upon lands which have not sufficient natural 
drainage may after a time produce sterility of soil, by 
bringing alkaline and other salts to the surface ; and it has 
been suggested that some such cause, and not war, brought 

298 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

about the abandonment of the vast areas which once were 
irrigated in Mesopotamia and elsewhere. 

Lord Curzon was an enthusiast for irrigation. It was one 
of his first "twelve subjects." But he was an enthusiast 
who discriminated. The greatest service that he rendered 
to the cause of irrigation in India was not so much that he 
greatly fostered its development, but rather that he restored 
perspective, reduced the whole problem to its correct pro- 
portions, and finally shattered the ridiculous charges with 
which the Government of India had been assailed. He 
increased the grant for new irrigation works as soon as he 
arrived. Very soon afterwards he had careful estimates 
prepared of the extent of fresh ground in the whole of India 
which could be brought under cultivation either by new 
irrigation projects or by extensions of existing systems. 
With regard to works which might be expected to pay, he 
found that it was still possible to irrigate another 3j million 
acres, at an estimated cost of between 8,000,000 and 
9,000,000 sterling. As to works which could not pay, which 
would be a financial burden on the State, and would in any 
case do very little for the prevention of famine, only about 
300,000 acres more could be undertaken. The total prac- 
ticable increase to the irrigable area of India under both 
heads would not, he said, amount to much more than 
4,000,000 acres, and he was afraid the works would not 
secure immunity from drought to districts now liable to 
famine, or help directly their suffering inhabitants. 

In 1901 he appointed a Commission, under the pre- 
sidency of Sir Colin Scott-Moncrieff, to investigate further 
the whole question of irrigation and its possibilities. The 
Commission pursued their inquiries during two cold seasons, 
visited every province where irrigation was possible, and 
submitted an admirable report in 1903. They increased the 
rough estimate announced by the Viceroy in 1900 by 
recommending projects which would irrigate 6,500,000 acres. 
In his final Budget speech in 1905, Lord Curzon reviewed 

299 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the irrigation problem for the last time. His statement was 
so concise and comprehensive, and revealed so clearly, not 
only the work undertaken by his Administration, but the 
whole of the issues connected with irrigation in India, that I 
may quote it in full. He said ; 

" As this is the last occasion upon which I shall ever 
speak at any length upon this subject in India, let me 
summarise the situation as it now stands. There are two 
classes of Irrigation in this country, State Irrigation, i.e. 
works constructed or maintained by the State, and Private 
Irrigation, conducted by communities or individuals, 
largely by means of wells. I am here only concerned with 
the former. I need not, before an Indian audience, expatiate 
upon the distinction, so familiar in our Reports and Budget 
Statements, between Major and Minor works, Productive 
and Protective works. Major works are either Productive, 
in which case we find the money for them out of surplus 
revenue or from loans, or Protective, in which case we 
provide for them from the annual Famine Grant of 
£1,000,000 ; the distinction between Productive and Pro- 
tective being that the former are expected to prove re- 
munerative, though they have not always been so, while 
the latter are not expected to be remunerative at all. In 
other words, Productive works are, or may be, protective ; 
but Protective works are not expected to be productive. 
Minor works are those which we undertake entirely out of 
the revenue of the year. 

" Now let me say what our outlay upon all these works 
up till the present hour has been, and what the property 
thus created represents. The Government of India have 
spent in all 46|^ crores or 31 millions sterling upon State 
Irrigation works in all the above classes. With it they have 
dug nearly 50,000 miles of canals and distributaries, they 
have irrigated an area oi '2\^ million acres, out of a total 
irrigated area in British India of about 47 million acres, and 
they derive from it a net revenue of £2,700,000 per annum, 
or a percentage of net revenue on capital outlay of approxi- 
mately 7 per cent. If we capitalise the net revenue at 25 
years' purchase, we obtain a total of 67^ millions sterling, or 

300 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

considerably more than double the capital outlay. These 
figures are an indication of what has already been done. 

" Next, what are we going to do or what are we capable 
of doing? In my first year in India I went to see the 
Chenab Canal in the Punjab, which had been finished a few 
years earlier. At that time it irrigated 1,000,000 acres, it 
now irrigates 2,000,000 ; at that time it had cost 1^ millions 
sterling, there have now been spent upon it two millions ; 
at that time it supported a population of 200,000 persons, 
the population is now over 1,000,000, and this huge aggre- 
gate is diffused over an expanse, now waving with corn and 
grain, that but a few years ago was a forsaken waste. Since 
then we have completed the Jhelum Canal, which already 
irrigates 300,000 acres, and will irrigate three-quarters of a 
million. Everywhere these lands, once waste and desolate, 
are being given out to colonisation ; and the Punjab 
Province, if it lost the doubtful prestige of the frontier 
with its disturbing problems and its warring tribes, has 
gained instead the solid asset of a contented and peaceful 
peasantry that will yearly swell its resources and enhance 
its importance. Then you have heard of the fresh obliga- 
tions which we have since undertaken in the same quarter ; 
.5 J millions sterling have just been sanctioned for the group 
of canals known as the Upper Chenab, the Upper Jhelum, 
and the Lower Bari Doab. Before another decade has 
elapsed 2,000,000 more acres will have been added to the 
irrigated area, with a proportionate increase in the popula- 
tion, and with an estimated return of 10 per cent, on the 
capital outlay. 

" So much for the near future. Now let me look a little 
further ahead, and come to the recommendations of the 
Irrigation Commission. They have advised an additional 
expenditure of 44 crores or nearly 30 millions sterling, 
spread out over twenty years, or an annual average expendi- 
ture of H millions sterling. We accept that estimate ; we 
regard it as reasonable ; and we hope to be able to provide the 
funds. This will increase the area under irrigation in British 
India to 6j million acres as compared with the 4 millions 
which I mentioned five years ago, the difference being 
explained by the fact that as we draw towards the close of 

301 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

this gigantic programme we shall no longer be able to talk 
glibly of remunerative programmes or of lucrative interest 
on capital outlay, but shall find ourselves dealing with Pro- 
tective works, pure and simple, where no return or but little 
return is to be expected, and where we shall have to measure 
the financial burden imposed on the State against the degree 
of protection from scarcity and famine obtained for the 
people. I do not think that we need shrink from that more 
exacting test ; for we shall have approached, if the metaphor 
may be permitted, the rocky passes in which our forces v/ill 
then be engaged, across smiling plains and verdant pastures, 
in which they will have derived strength and sustenance for 
the harder and less remunerative toil that will lie before 
them. 

" I wish that we could proceed even faster. But that is 
out of the question. Canals are not like railways, where 
companies are ready to find the money and to undertake the 
work, where an embankment can anywhere be thrown up 
by unskilled labour, and where the iron or steel plant that 
may be required can be ordered by telegram from Europe 
or the United States, In irrigation you have in the first 
place to find the funds from the borrowings of the State, 
which are not capable of unlimited extension. You have 
to spend much time in preliminary investigations and sur- 
veys. You then have to obtain your labour for the parti- 
cular work. It is estimated that to spend the amount which 
I have named a host of 280,000 workmen and coolies will 
be required for 250 days in each of the twenty years, in 
addition to those required for the maintenance of the exist- 
ing works, and of the new ones as they come into operation. 
And finally you have to engage and train your skilled estab- 
lishment, which is a matter of careful recruitment, spread 
over a series of years. These are the considerations that 
must always differentiate irrigation work from railway work 
in India, and that militate against the same rate of speed in 
the former. 

" And then, when we have done all this, where shall we 
stand ? We shall have done much, we shall have done what 
no other nation or country has done before. But the surplus 
water from the snows of the Himalayas and from the opened 

302 



PLAGUE AND FAMINE 

doors of heaven will still spill its unused and unusable 
abundance into the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. 
The calculations show that of the total average rainfall ot 
India as much as 35 per cent., and a much larger propor- 
tion of the surface flow, amounting to 87 per cent., is carried 
away by rivers to the sea. The programme that I have 
sketched will at the most utilise only 2} per cent, of this 
surface flow, and the remainder will still continue its aimless 
and unarrested descent to the ocean. Why is this ? The 
answer is very simple, and to any one who has any know- 
ledge of the meteorological or geographical features of this 
continent very clear. Rain does not always fall in India in 
the greatest volume where it is most needed. What Cherra- 
punji could easily spare, Rajputana cannot for all the wealth 
of Crcesus obtain. Neither does rain fall all through the 
year in India. It descends in great abundance, within nar- 
rowly defined periods of time, and then it is often very diffi- 
cult, and sometimes impossible, to store it. Providence does 
not tell us when a year of famine is impending, and we cannot 
go on holding up the water for a drought that may never 
come. It would be bad economy even if it were not a physical 
impossibility. Sometimes where water is most plentiful 
there is no use for it, because of the sterile or forbidding or 
unsuitable nature of the soil. Sometimes it flows down in 
blind superfluity through a country already intersected with 
canals. Sometimes it meanders in riotous plenty through 
alluvial plains where storage is impossible. Sometimes, 
again, the cost of storage is so tremendous as to be abso- 
lutely prohibitive. These are some, though by no means 
all, of the reasons which place an inexpugnable barrier to 
the realisation of academic dreams. 

" Facts of this sort we may deprecate, but cannot ignore ; 
and the time will never come when we can harness all that 
wealth of misspent and futile power and convert it to the 
use of man. What we can do the Commission have told 
us ; what we mean to do I have endeavoured imperfectly to 
sketch out in these remarks. Restricted as is the programme 
when measured against the prodigious resources of nature, 
it is yet the maximum programme open to human agency 
and to finite powers, and it is one that may well appeal 

303 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

either to the enthusiasm of the individual or to the organised 
abihty of the State. We are about to embark upon it with 
the consciousness that we are not merely converting the 
gifts of Providence to the service of man, but that we are 
labouring to reduce human suffering and in times of calamity 
to rescue and sustain millions of human lives." 

The schemes set forth by Lord Curzon have been steadily 
continued. By 1909-10 the capital outlay upon irrigation 
works of all classes had increased to 37j millions sterling, 
with proportionate results. Yet there is no part of his work 
in India of which his countrymen have heard less. He 
only carried on, in the department of irrigation, what others 
had done before him ; but the special merit of his labours 
lay in the fact that he systematised the whole enterprise, 
prepared a clear and final programme which represented the 
utmost possible extension of the Indian irrigation system, 
arranged for its finance and for its steady prosecution, and 
incidentally silenced the foolish criticism which had been 
propagated without a check for years. 



304 



IX 

COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

One of the most urgent problems of India is that of the 
organisation and development of its industries. Agriculture 
is the mainstay of the country, and must always remain so ; 
but India will not attain its rightful place in the world 
solely by agriculture. If the ultimate object of Great 
Britain is to enable India to rely upon her own resources, 
she must develop Indian industries. If the object of Indian 
politicians is to make India competent to manage her own 
affairs, they must turn their attention first to industrial 
organisation. Crops will never suffice to make India 
powerful while there is such a huge population to feed. 
They must be supplemented by manufactures, and by the 
better utilisation of mineral resources. 

The industrial development of India is everywhere 
proceeding apace. The growth of cotton and jute mills, 
the great increase of mining, the creation of important 
subsidiary manufactures, are all working great changes. 
The stage of transition has produced many difficulties. 
The old system of village labour is being broken up. That 
was to some extent inevitable, because Indian industries 
would never have progressed very far without the adoption 
of the Western factory system. But is the factory system 
the only alternative ? Can nothing be done to preserve and 
maintain the vast body of individual workers who are 
outside the factories ? Can the hand-loom compete with 
the mill ? The probability is that there is room for both, 

305 u 



I 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

and that under Indian conditions the best solution of the 
industrial problem lies in a judicious encouragement of both 
systems. The present trouble is that India has not yet 
adapted herself to the new situation. The bulk of the 
population is rooted on the land. If men go to the to^vns 
to work as operatives, they return to their villages at the 
first opportunity. The class of urban industrial workers has 
still to be created, and the process is slow and painful. A 
very great responsibility rests upon the Government of 
India in this respect. They have to profit by the lessons 
of the past in other countries, and to ensure that the 
growth of industrialism in India is not attended by the 
evils visible in England a century ago, and in Japan to-day, 
It is a responsibility of which they are not now unmindful. 

The relations of the British in India to commerce and 
industry have undergone curious fluctuations. They went 
to the East for trade and for no other purpose; even 
conquest was only incidental, and was chiefly undertaken to 
facilitate trade until Clive fought with a larger aim. The 
East India Company had the greatest difliculty in discourag- 
ing private trade among its agents, and finally was compelledj 
by Parliament to abandon trade altogether. By the middle 
of last century, an entirely new set of ideals had grown up, 
and the administrators of India deemed it their duty to 
discourage business men. The designation " box-wallah " 
(packman) was still applied as a term of opprobrium to 
business men even in my time. Lord Lawrence is credited 
with fierce opposition to the advent of business men in 
India, but it is not always remembered that he had special 
reason for his hostility. He became Viceroy during the 
period of wild speculation which ended in widespread 
commercial disaster in India towards the close of the 
American Civil War. On one occasion he exclaimed : " I 
know what private enterprise means ! It means robbing the 
Government ! " The remark became the keynote of the 
policy of the Indian authorities. The dislike of business 

306 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

enterprises endured for many years afterwards. Even when 
the Government of India ceased to be actively hostile, their 
methods towards business men remained generally sullen, 
sometimes obstructive, and at times frankly contemptuous. 
They showed great outward respect to the Chambers of 
Commerce, but the respect was rarely carried into practice 
when there was business to be transacted. 

Whatever differences of opinion arose in India about 
Lord Curzon's Administration, he earned nothing but 
gratitude from the business communities of both races for 
his commercial policy. He was the first Viceroy to make it 
thoroughly clear to business men that he meant to help 
them, and that he regarded them as an integral part of the 
fabric of the Indian Empire. From his advent dates the 
complete change in the attitude of the Government of India 
towards commercial enterprises, which to-day has become 
so natural that it is accepted as a matter of course. His 
commercial policy is one of the features of his Administra- 
tion which has stood the test of time, and has proved to be 
permanent. 

The central achievement of the policy was the creation 
of a new Department of Commerce and Industry, with a 
member of the Viceroy's Council at its head. The scheme 
was evolved from a minor project for the better collection 
of commercial intelligence. The new Department was 
charged with the whole control of the commercial and 
industrial interests of India. The subjects transferred to it 
from other Departments included various aspects of railway 
administration, factories, the Post Office and telegraphs, 
ports and merchant shipping, the Customs, mining, the 
lighting of the coasts, and many other heads of business. A 
Director-General of Commercial Intelligence was appointed, 
and a trade journal was established under his control. The 
Department was created in March 1905. The first Member 
for Commerce and Industry was Sir John Hewett, who was 
selected for his organising capacity rather than for special 

307 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

commercial knowledge, to which he did not pretend. Since 
he became Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces, 
some difficulty has been found in filling the appointment, 
although it carries a salary of over £4000 a year. The 
original intention unquestionably was that the Commercial 
Member should when possible be a man of commercial 
experience, and it is hard to believe that no suitable man 
can be found in the ranks of business men in India and in 
England. Yet that is what the authorities aver. Sir John 
Hewett's successor was Mr. J. F. Finlay, of the Finance 
Department, who had already retired from India. He 
resigned in 1908 owing to ill-health. After an interval he | 
was succeeded by Mr. W. L. Harvey, who had strong 
claims because he had been Secretary of the new Depart- 
ment from its creation, and had long been intimately 
associated with the business community. On Mr. Harvey's 
death in 1910 Lord Morley appointed Mr. W. H. Clark, 
who was a clerk in the British Board of Trade. The 
selection of Mr. Clark aroused much indignant protest. It 
was argued with considerable justice that if an official was 
to be appointed, he should not be a junior official from 
England. Except for the controversy thus occasioned, the 
operations of the Department have given much satisfaction 
to the mercantile community in India. 

A prominent feature of Lord Curzon's commercial policy 
was the energetic attention he paid to the extension of j 
railways. He said at a luncheon given by the Directors of] 
the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company i 
before his departure, that there were 20,841 miles of railway] 
open in India, and 4298 miles in course of construction. 
He hoped that long before he left India the total railway] 
mileage would have exceeded 25,000 miles. The figures 
he quoted were apparently not accurate, for when Lord' 
Elgin left India a month later 22,040 miles were open to 
traffic. But Lord Curzon far outstripped his own expecta- 
tions, for before he left India 28,150 miles were open, and 

308 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

3167 more were under construction. The work steadily 
continues. At the end of the year 1909-10 there were 
32,103 miles open for traffic, and 2675 miles under con- 
struction or sanctioned. Nevertheless, the total looks small 
when compared with the 240,000 miles of the United 
States, though it compares favourably with Canada's 
25,000 miles. Any such comparisons are, however, some- 
what misleading, by reason of the difference in population 
and other conditions. 

Though Lord Curzon actually built a far greater mileage 
of railways than any other Viceroy, the statement hardly 
does justice to his immediate predecessor. Some of these 
lines were really sanctioned by Lord Elgin, though he was 
afterwards hampered by financial stringency; and it may 
come as a surprise to those interested in Indian railway 
matters to learn that Lord Elgin sanctioned a greater mileage 
of new railway projects than Lord Curzon. The respective 
figures are 5484 and 5435 miles. Moreover, Lord Curzon's 
total was swollen by a large proportion of narrow-gauge 
lines, whereas Lord Elgin sanctioned far more standard- 
gauge lines than any Viceroy did before or since. It has 
further to be remembered that out of the grand total of 
mileage quoted 3800 miles have been built or are owned by 
native states. On the other hand, Lord Elgin ended by 
recommending a curtailment of the rate of railway construc- 
tion, a recommendation which Lord Curzon speedily induced 
the Secretary of State to modify. 

The financing and management of Indian railways are, 
however, a source of much greater anxiety than the con- 
struction programmes. In the early days of railway con- 
struction, companies built under guarantees from the 
Government, which were found in practice to involve a 
heavy drain upon Government resources. In the reaction 
which followed, private enterprise was unduly restricted. 
When the restrictions were relaxed, the inducements offered 
to investors were still insufficient, and remained so until 

309 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

quite recently. In course of time, as the leases of the old 
guaranteed railways fell in, the lines were acquired by the 
State, but in most cases leased again to the companies on 
terms more favourable to the Government. In 1909-10 the 
State was itself working 6675 miles of railway, while 17,920 
miles of State railway were being worked by companies, the 
remaining mileage falling under other headings. When 
Lord Curzon arrived the railway property of the Govern- 
ment was not earning enough to meet its interest charges. 
The year after his arrival — it was a mere coincidence — the 
railway revenue showed a net surplus for the first time, 
amounting to £77,000. In the year he left, the annual 
surplus had risen to £2,105,000. It has since declined, 
owing to the necessity for further improving existing lines ; 
but in the same period the gross receipts increased by 38 per 
cent., and there can be no doubt that in their railways the 
Government of India possess a splendid property, which is 
rapidly increasing in value. 

One of the distinguishing merits of Lord Curzon's railway 
policy was that while he expedited the construction of new 
lines, he improved the lines already open. I am aware that 
it is contended that the improvement of existing lines, and 
particularly the provision of more rolling stock, has been 
accelerated since his departure ; but the statement only 
gives some idea of the condition in which he found the old 
lines. In one year, 1905-6, he budgeted for an expenditure 
on railways of the enormous sum of £8,500,000, and nearly 
half this amount was spent on open lines. He increased the 
rolling stock of the railways of India by 32 per cent. 
INIoreover, he compelled the improvement of accommoda- 
tion for third-class Indian passengers by his own personal 
intervention, and the reform was warmly welcomed by the 
Indian communities. 

Lord Elgin had instituted an annual Railway Confer- 
ence. Lord Curzon altered the character of its delibera- 
tions and appointed in addition a small Travelling 

310 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

Commission, the chief purpose of which was to get into 
touch with local opinion concerning railway matters. In 
1901, at his request, the Secretary of State sent out 
Mr. Thomas Robertson, a railway expert of great experi- 
ence, to inquire into and report upon the administration 
and working of Indian railways. Mr. Robertson spent 
eighteen months upon the task, and incidentally visited the 
railways of the United States and Canada for purposes of 
comparison. The conclusions he came to were that the 
condition of the railways was far from satisfactory, that 
" root-and-branch reform " was necessary, and that the lines 
must be worked " more as commercial enterprises than they 
have been in the past." I do not propose to examine the 
highly technical issues raised by Mr. Robertson's admirable 
report, although I am not wholly unacquainted with them, and 
although by leaving them undiscussed I practically ignore a 
subject to which Lord Curzon devoted a vast amount of 
time. My reason is that this book is mainly intended for 
general readers rather than for experts. If there may seem 
some lack of proportion between the space I have devoted 
to, say, some islands in the Persian Gulf, and to the niceties 
of railway finance, my renewed answer is that in so vast a 
theme it has been necessary to be selective, and I have 
preferred to dwell upon those aspects of Lord Curzon's 
Administration which seemed to be of most general interest. 
That is why several features of Lord Curzon's work, of 
great importance though chiefly technical in character, only 
find very brief mention in these pages. 

The Government of India were rather disconcerted by 
Mr. Robertson's strictures, but many of his recommendations 
were carried into effect. Chief among these was a complete 
revolution in the system of railway control. Hitherto the 
railway had been a branch of the Public Works Depart- 
ment, and sufficient attention had not been given to the 
commercial side of railway policy. The Public Works 
Department had at its head a Member of Council, who 

311 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

had become rather superfluous. Lord Curzon abolished 
him, and placed the Department in charge of a Secretary 
to Government. At the same time he removed the rail- 
ways from the control of the Department, and handed them 
over to a new Railway Board, composed of three railway 
experts, as recommended by Mr. Robertson. He pointed 
out afterwards that the idea had been propounded by 
Sir George Chesney many years before. The Railway 
Board was given control of railway matters, and its duties 
include the preparation of the annual programme of railway 
expenditure, the control of State lines, the supervision of 
companies' lines, and many cognate duties. These changes 
were only brought into operation in the last year of Lord 
Curzon's Viceroyalty. As t have said in the opening 
chapter, the Railway Board did not meet with general 
approval at first, chiefly because it paid too much attention 
to details, and did not concentrate upon the greater ques- 
tions of railway policy; but it certainly handles railway 
business far more rapidly than under the old system, and I 
believe its work is now less open to criticism. The reform 
thus introduced by Lord Curzon is said to be " the most 
important that has been made in policy and administration 
since railways were first introduced into India." 

It was followed in 1907 by the abolition of the archaic 
posts of Consulting Engineers for Railways, and the con- 
ferment of larger powers upon the railway companies. In 
the same year the Railway Board was reconstituted and its 
powers enlarged, while in 1910 more liberal terms were 
offered to private promoters of feeder railways. The railway 
administration of India still has many defects, its methods of 
finance are not wholly satisfactory, and its rate of progress 
in construction is far too slow ; but there has been a remark- 
able improvement during the last decade, for which Lord 
Curzon was largely responsible. My own impression is that 
the cost of working Indian railways will continue to rise, 
and that the pay of the subordinate staff" will have to be 

312 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

substantially increased in course of time. On the railways, 
as in every branch of the public and semi-public services, 
Indians are demanding a larger share of recognition. 
Although 97 per cent, of the men employed on the railways 
are Indians, it is pointed out that very few of them obtain 
access to the higher posts. 

The peculiarity of the Indian railway system is that it 
is still entirely cut off from the rest of the world, while the 
sea remains the only highway of communication between 
India and Burma. The nineteenth century saw the com- 
pletion of the Siberian Railway ; the twentieth century is 
bound to witness the construction of more great trunk lines 
throughout Asia. The harbinger of Asiatic progress is the 
locomotive. The time must certainly come when the Indian 
system will be linked up with that of China on the one 
hand, and that of Asiatic Russia and Persia on the other. 
Lord Curzon's attitude towards these various possibilities 
can be very briefly explained. One of his objects in making 
the wild journey from Assam to Upper Burma in 1901 was 
to judge for himself the character of the country, and the 
prospects of linking up the Assam and Burma systems. He 
announced afterwards in Rangoon that though land con- 
nection was much to be desired, he would not be a party to 
it in his time. As to railway connection between Burma 
and the Chinese province of Yunnan, he thought it " mid- 
summer madness." He said : 

" I cannot advise that, in the pursuit of fanciful political 
ambitions, we should use Indian money to spread-eagle our 
railways over foreign countries and remote continents, while 
all the time there is lying the most splendid and lucrative 
field of investment at our doors." 

He added that the entire Burmo-Chinese trade was then 
being successfully transported across the Salween River in 
two dug-outs, though it has grown since. His opinions 

313 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

regarding railway extensions on the western frontier were 
equally emphatic. Though he built the first section of the 
Nushki-Seistan Railway, he considered the construction of 
trunk railways in Persia to be at that time a somewhat 
remote possibility; and I have always understood that he 
was absolutely opposed to any project for joining the Indian 
system to the railways of Russia by an extension through 
Afghanistan. 

I shared these views once, but have now abandoned 
them all ; and 1 dare say the passing of a decade has 
materially modified Lord Curzon's opinions also. The early 
provision of railway communication between India and 
Burma has become both a strategic and a political necessity. 
As for linking up with Russia and China, I was induced to 
come to fresh conclusions after inspecting the Siberian 
Railway just before the Russo-Japanese War; and these 
conclusions have been strengthened since I have seen other 
transcontinental lines, including the Canadian Pacific. The 
subject is too large to be discussed here, but I hold that 
when China brings her Szechuan Railway towards the 
Burma frontier, as she will do in course of time, it should 
be linked with the Northern Shan States or with Myitkyina ; 
and I understand that the engineering difficulties are not so 
insuperable as was once supposed. That India will one day 
have direct railway communication with Europe, and that 
the railway route will be largely patronised, has become 
with me an article of faith ; but the way to the Straits 
of Dover will never lie through Persia or Asia Minor. I 
agree with Sir Thomas Holdich that the route through 
Afghanistan by way of Kandahar and Herat is " the shortest, 
simplest, and cheapest overland connection with Europe." 
He points out that five hundred miles of easy line would 
connect Europe with India " without any intervening 
deserts, no hot plains . . . and would pass through an 
admirable climate and over easy grades." Experience else- 
where shows that such a line would have little through 

314 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

freight traffic, and would be chiefly maintained by sectional 
traffic. The project is out of the question while Afghanistan 
remains surrounded by a ring-fence, but another twenty 
years will work great changes in the dominions of the Amir. 
When such a scheme becomes practicable, I see no reason 
why it should materially affect the problem of Indian defence, 
and many reasons why it should strengthen the position of 
Afghanistan as a buffer state. I hope to live to enter the 
" Calais Express " at the Victoria Terminus at Bombay. 

Having set his railway reforms in motion, Lord Curzon 
turned his attention to the Customs Department, the adminis- 
tration of which had been the subject of constant complaint 
by the mercantile community. The value of the import 
trade of India in the year 1905-1906 was over £74,000,000, 
exclusive of treasure, yet up to that year the Customs 
arrangements had been unworthy of a tenth-rate colony. 
It was not the fault of the men, but of the system. The 
principal Collectors of Customs were selected at random 
from the Civil Service, and the posts were chiefly used to 
find temporary employment for officers of fairly senior 
standing who were waiting for other appointments. As a 
rule they had no special interest in the work, and knew that 
they would be speedily transferred to more congenial duties. 
The Customs branch was a byway which rarely led to high 
promotion. The consequence was that the commercial firms 
were constantly being confronted by new temporary 
collectors who did not know their duties, and were eager to 
forsake them. The subordinates had other defects, also 
chiefly due to the system. They had much work, but little real 
responsibility. Their pay was bad, and their prospects poor. 
Every maritime province had its own provincial Customs 
Service administered by the Provincial Government, and in 
these little services the subordinates had few chances of 
improving their position. Moreover, procedure was not 
uniform. Not only was every port a law unto itself, but 
successive collectors had different methods. Merchants were 

315 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

therefore exasperated, and Chambers of Commerce grumbled 
without ceasing. 

An inquiry into the condition of the Calcutta Custom- 
house in 1902 led to some improvement, and at the same 
time certain concessions were made to subordinates. It was 
soon plain that these changes did not go deep enough. 
There were further inquiries, and at last, in 1905, Lord 
Curzon swept away the provincial services, and established 
an Imperial Customs Service, whose officers were to be 
available for employment at any port. A proportion of the 
higher posts were reserved for members of the Civil Service, 
but they had first to qualify by acting as assistants, and they 
were more or less told that if they entered the Customs 
they were expected to stay in the Department. The 
grievances of the subordinates were duly rectified. The 
change revolutionised the Customs Service, and made it 
worthy of a great Empire with a huge trade. It was deeply 
appreciated by mercantile firms, and was one of the reforms 
which led the Bombay Chamber of Commerce, not a very 
emotional body, to present an address to Lord Curzon on 
his departure declaring that " the barrier that seemed some 
years ago to divide Government from commerce has been 
completely broken down." 

On the day he landed in India, Lord Curzon privately 
expressed his intention of seeking an early opportunity to 
reduce the telegraphic charges between India and England. 
In his first Budget speech, he said he regarded the existing 
rate as " inimical to trade, a barrier to the ever-growing 
intercourse between India and the mother country, and 
obsolete and anomalous in itself." The rate for private 
telegrams was then 4*. a word, and for Press telegrams 
1.9. 4c?. a word. There was a long delay, because negotiations 
with foreign countries were necessary, but in 1902 he was 
able to announce that private telegrams had been reduced 
to 2s. 6d. a word, and Press messages to one shilling. He 
admitted that the reduction was not as large " as I should 

316 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

personally have liked, or as will one day come." The traffic 
grew so rapidly that by the second year, instead of having 
to pay £45,000 a year under its guarantee, as was estimated, 
the Government of India only had to pay £1300. In 1904 
private telegrams were further reduced to 2#. a word, but no 
further reduction was made in Press rates until in 1909 the 
Imperial Press Conference got the rate lowered to 9^. The 
reason why the reduction for private messages gave so 
much gratification in commercial circles is that much of the 
business with Europe is transacted by telegraph. 

Lord Curzon told the Bombay Chamber, in taking leave 
of its members, that the rate must go yet lower. He said 
that if private messages were sixpence a word, and Press 
messages cheaper still, between England and India, "the 
almost indescribable ignorance which exists in each country 
about the other, and which is often the despair of friends of 
both, could no longer exist." " I believe in giving news to 
the people," were his final words on a subject on which he 
had often spoken. As I shall afterwards relate, the Viceroy 
had recently had personal cause to rue the high cost of Press 
messages to England, because owing to the process of severe 
condensation he had accidentally been the victim of a serious 
misunderstanding. The further reduction of Press tele- 
graphic rates between England and India has become a 
matter of urgent Imperial importance. For the newspapers 
in both countries the question necessarily assumes a business 
form ; already they spend all, and sometimes more than, 
they can afford ; but for the public and the Empire cheaper 
Press telegrams to and from India are now a vital necessity. 
Internal private telegrams were also reduced in price 
during Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty, with the result that in 
two years they increased 30 per cent., while a reduction of 
the internal Press rates caused an increase of between 
80 and 90 per cent., the traffic rising in a single year from 
7,680,000 to 14,000,000 words. Lord Curzon tried to 
promote the better dissemination of news from Europe by 

317 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

introducing, in 1900, a Bill conferring copyright upon Press 
messages from foreign countries for a limited number of 
hours. The Bill was eventually withdrawn, partly owing 
to dissensions among Anglo-Indian newspapers as to the 
period of copyright, but still more in consequence of the 
violent opposition of the native Press. The native news- 
papers were in the habit of promptly republishing the 
special telegrams from Europe received by the Anglo- 
Indian newspapers, and were furious at the possibility that 
the privilege might be denied to them. The Anglo- Indian 
newspapers did not care a straw about republication in the 
native Press, with which they were not in competition ; 
they only wanted protection against each other. The diffi- 
culty might have been overcome by exempting the native 
Press from the operations of the Bill, and possibly another 
measure may be introduced some day upon these lines ; 
but even with that wide exemption it will be difficult to 
frame a measure acceptable to all. I think that nowadays, 
in Calcutta at any rate, such a measure might instantly 
produce severe competition between the Anglo-Indian and 
the native newspapers. 

The reason assigned to me some time afterwards for the 
withdrawal of the Telegraphic Press Messages Bill was that 
the Viceroy had been deeply impressed by the loyal attitude 
of the native Press during the Boer War. He felt the 
opposition to the Bill to be somewhat unreasonable, but 
considered that he should not, under the circumstances, per- 
sist with a measure to which the leading native newspapers 
took such strong exception. The recollection of the loyalty 
of the bulk of the native newspapers during the South African 
crisis influenced all his views regarding them in later years, 
and, taken in conjunction with his preoccupations in other 
directions, goes far to explain why he ignored or condoned 
subsequent manifestations of sedition in some quarters. 

For the benefit of the tea trade, and at the request of 
the planting community. Lord Curzon passed the Indian 

318 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

Tea Cess Act in 1903. It provides for a minute compulsory 
levy on every pound of Indian tea exported by sea, and 
produces a sum exceeding £20,000 a year. This sum is 
spent by representatives of the tea trade in advertising, and 
otherwise pushing the sale of Indian tea in India and other 
countries. For the indigo planters, who were nearly ruined 
by German synthetic indigo, he made a special grant spread 
over a number of years, to defray the cost of scientific 
inquiry into the methods of production of natural indigo. 
Though the Behar industry continues to decline, the experi- 
ments are still proceeding, not without some hope of success. 
Meanwhile the indigo planters find some consolation in the 
thought that the battle is not yet lost, for synthetic indigo 
can only compete with them by being sold at a fraction 
above the cost of production. At the instance of the owners 
of jute mills, special inquiries were instituted into the causes 
of the deterioration of jute. Efforts were made to improve 
the sea fisheries, which had been sadly neglected. The 
petroleum trade was found to be suffering from obsolete 
restrictions which thwarted its growth, and was given rules 
which permit greater freedom. An Act passed in 1903 
made provision for facilitating and regulating the supply 
and use of electricity for lighting and other purposes. Except 
in Calcutta, there was no legislation controlling electric 
lighting and traction, until this Act was passed. 

In his first year in India, Lord Curzon issued revised 
rules for mining and prospecting; I believe the question 
had been under consideration before his advent. The extra- 
ordinarily obstructive and unjust rules previously in force 
are scarcely conceivable to-day, but they illustrate very 
forcibly what I have already said about the former attitude 
of the Government of India towards private enterprise. 
One ridiculous rule was that no prospecting licence could 
be granted to a company or syndicate, although mining 
enterprises are usually entered upon by associations rather 
by than individuals. The framers of the original rules seem 

319 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

to have been inflamed by an almost inexplicable intolerance 
of companies and syndicates. Again, even a prospector for 
coal was limited to an area of four square miles, and it was 
further directed that at least eight miles must intervene 
between any two prospecting grants to the same person ! 
Prospecting for coal is sometimes an elaborate business, in- 
volving heavy initial outlay, and such a rule was almost 
prohibitive. A disgracefully unjust rule was that " when 
any area has been explored and its value as a field for mining 
is sufficiently ascertained," provincial Governments were 
empowered to refuse to grant prospecting licences, and to 
put up the whole of the mining rights for sale by auction. 
It is hardly possible to estimate all the mischief that single 
enactment did in retarding the development of the mineral 
resources of India. By its provisions the Government, after 
permitting an individual to undertake the arduous work of 
exploration, were enabled to step in, regardless of the pre- 
ferential claim established by the explorer's industry and 
enterprise, and sell to any competitor all the mineral wealth 
he had revealed. A Chinese mandarin of the old school 
would hardly have been capable of more shameless injustice. 
A ludicrous regulation was that when premises and mines 
were abandoned, the workings had to be handed over to the 
Government "in a workmanlike state." Even an ex- 
hausted coal seam had to be delivered up " in a proper state 
for working," if the rules were insisted on. 

The old mining rules were by no means a case apart : 
they were simply a fair illustration of the normal demeanour 
of the Government of India towards business men for a 
period of half a century. The changes made in them by 
Lord Curzon were the first-fruits of the new policy by 
which he instilled confidence into every branch of com- 
mercial life. All the regulations I have quoted were ruth- 
lessly destroyed ; royalties on precious stones and gold and 
silver Avere based on net profits instead of on output, and 
thus an iniquitous provision which had cost the Burma 

320 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

Ruby Mines Company £150,000 while it was working at a 
loss was abolished ; the royalty on coal was reduced from 
2d. to a Id. per ton ; an absurd prohibition controlling the 
assignment of interests was excised from the rules, and in 
many other ways the whole of the conditions were revised. 

The reform gave a great impetus to mining enterprise in 
India. Sir Thomas Holland, in a lecture to the Royal 
Society of Arts in April 1911, pointed out that the year 
1899 was memorable, in regard to mineral questions, in two 
ways. In that year not only were the new mining rules 
promulgated, but a gold standard of currency with a fixed 
rate of exchange was adopted. English investors knew for 
the first time the exact nominal value of their outlay and 
the worth of their dividends ; and they ought to have known 
that the old policy of obstruction was abandoned for ever. 
Yet so evil was the name of the Government of India in 
the English money market that it was years before mistrust 
was allayed, and I have little doubt that even to-day the 
memory of the second half of the nineteenth century 
militates against the popularity of Indian investments. 
Certain flaws in the new rules are now being rectified ; but 
after ten years' working Sir Thomas Holland was able to 
testify to " the generous nature of the rules as a whole." 

Lord Curzon afterwards tried, without success, to induce 
prominent English capitalists to start great iron and steel 
works in India ; and possibly no one was more surprised 
than the Viceroy when a courageous and prescient Indian, 
the late Mr. Jamsetjee Tata, volunteered to undertake the 
task. In some respects Mr. Tata was the most remarkable 
Indian of his time. In the last few decades, India has 
produced a few leaders of thought, a few earnest reformers, 
one or two orators of marked ability, two or three undoubted 
statesmen, and a writer or two of notable talent ; but there 
has been hardly any other man among its millions who may 
more fitly be said to have united within himself the qualities 
of which the Indian peoples stand so greatly in need. His 

321 X 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

achievements were mainly material and of a nature to im- 
press the Western mind rather than the Oriental ; but I 
knew him well in his later years, and caught glimpses of the 
high purpose which lay behind them. As a pioneer of 
Indian industry he stood entirely alone, and so far he has 
had no conspicuous successor. No record of the period during 
which Lord Curzon governed India can ignore his work. 

Jamsetjee Tata saw in his early youth that India must 
add industrial development and the utilisation of its natural 
resources to its immemorial adherence to the soil. His 
articles of faith were that the country could not exist 
almost solely upon agriculture, that it had vast unutilised 
resources, that with its abundance of raw material and 
cheap labour it might develop great manufactures, and that 
Indian brains and Indian capital, wisely associated, where 
necessary, with Western experience, ought to do the work. 
He differed from the majority of his compatriots in the 
extraordinary thoroughness of his procedure. When, for 
instance, he decided to enter the mill industry, he first made 
a long and careful study of Lancashire njethods. He 
emerged from his researches an expert of a high order ; his 
brain had a peculiar bent for the investigation of machinery 
and of systems of manufacture ; and the splendid Empress 
Mills at Nagpore, which he built on his return, are the 
finest of their kind in India. In every enterprise that he 
subsequently touched he showed the same faculties : first, 
broad imagination and keen insight, next a scientific and 
calculating study of the project and all that it involved, and 
finally a high capacity for organisation. 

The important share he took in the reconstruction move- 
ment which has given Bombay so many handsome buildings 
was only one of his many enterprises. Had he lived, he 
would undoubtedly have created a great and healthy suburb 
of Bombay on the Trombay heights ; he dreamed of it for 
years, and had a firm belief in its success. I once wrote an 
article in which I said that the man who built an hotel 

322 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

worthy of such a city would do more for Bombay than the 
donor of many museums. He came to me and told me that 
the idea had long been simmering in his mind, and that he 
had made much study of the subject. He spent more than 
a quarter of a million sterling upon the project ; and the 
immense Taj Mahal Hotel, with its great dome, the first 
sight that greets travellers upon entering the harbour, was 
the result. He had not the slightest desire to own an hotel, 
however imposing ; his sole wish was to attract people to 
India, and incidentally to improve Bombay. In the midst 
of incessant activities, and in spite of the claims of his 
widespread mercantile business, he found time to conduct 
innumerable experiments, all at his own cost. He intro- 
duced the Japanese silk industry into Mysore. He sent 
many Indian students to England and Japan. He tried to 
acclimatise Egyptian cotton in India, to send Bombay 
mangoes to the London market, to develop artesian wells 
in Gujerat ; no one but himself and one or two others knew 
the whole range of his interests. The mistakes he un- 
doubtedly made — they were not many — were due to the 
practical impossibility of exercising close control in so many 
directions ; and he was very self-willed. 

One of his most marked characteristics was his passion 
for travel. He knew England better than most English- 
men, and there were few countries wherein he had not 
journeyed, with seeing eye and a mind ready to grasp what 
he saw. He was familiar with many great cities, knew 
Paris well, and was not unknown in New York, where he 
had a branch house. With him, wealth was but a means 
to an end ; he cared little for it, save for the power it 
gave him. Simplicity was his invariable rule ; he liked 
splendid surroundings, but his personal tastes were of the 
plainest kind, and he scorned publicity. His greatest 
pleasure was to be among his own friends at his club ; and 
any stranger who saw his strong impressive bearded form 
in moments of relaxation, clad in the simple white garb of 

323 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

his race, and laughing over a game of pachesi, would not 
have dreamed that he was in the presence of one who had 
such a wide knowledge of the world, who had done so much, 
and had cherished such high aims. He was a Parsi, and his 
interests centred in Bombay, but his spirit rose above the 
restraints of race and creed. He belonged to the whole 
country, and did more for its material regeneration than 
any other Indian of modern times. 

In his later years, the boldness of Mr. Tata's projects 
staggered and sometimes frightened his contemporaries, but 
his wisdom is rapidly receiving posthumous justification. 
He died at Nauheim in 1904. The three great schemes 
with which his name is chiefly associated were all set in 
motion during Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty. The first was for 
the foundation of an Indian Institute of Science, an organi- 
sation which should provide new careers for the promising 
youth of India, should bring the best intellects of the 
country into closer touch with Western science, and should 
at the same time help forward the development of the 
resources of the Indian Empire. To that end he offered 
property worth £200,000 — it has since increased in value — 
as an endowment, the property to be vested in the Govern- 
ment. A deputation headed by Sir Edward Candy laid the 
scheme before Lord Curzon on the day after his arrival, and 
he promised his warm support. Later the Viceroy gave a 
grant of £5800 a year towards the enterprise, and also granted 
£16,600 towards the building fund. Mr. Tata died just 
when his scheme had been fully approved by Lord Curzon 
and the Secretary of State, but his sons immediately 
announced to the Government of India their intention of 
fulfilling their father's wishes. Sir William Ramsay had 
already visited India to advise upon the scheme ; the Mysore 
Government gave £33,000 down, a large tract of land for a 
site, and promised £3300 a year ; and the Institute is now 
established at Bangalore as a post-graduate university 
institution for "the promotion of advanced studies and 

324 \- 

■J 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

original research with special regard to the interests of 
India." Its immediate object is study and research " in 
such branches of pure and applied science as are more 
directly applicable to Indian arts and industries." Dr. 
Morris Travers, F.R.S., from Bristol University, is the first 
director, having been nominated by the Royal Society at 
the request of the Secretary of State. One of Mr. Tata's 
express injunctions, w^hich showed his modest character, was 
that his name was not to be associated with the designation 
of the Institute. 

The second scheme could only have been carried out by a 
man of bold and original ideas. Mr. Tata was long possessed 
by the thought that the heavy tropical rainfall of Western 
India might be utilised for practical purposes. Behind the 
narrow strip of coast the Western Ghats rise like a natural 
rampart, and they catch the first onset of the south-west 
monsoon. The average rainfall in the Lonauli district is 
175 inches. Mr. Tata met Mr. David Gostling, who had 
hit upon the plan of constructing huge storage reservoirs 
amid the hills, and arresting the rapid flow of water to the 
sea. The water thus accumulated could, he contended, be 
converted into enough electric power to supply all the mills 
in Bombay. Both were laughed at, but Mr. Tata pursued 
the idea with characteristic tenacity of purpose. The 
preliminary investigations lasted for years, but it was con- 
clusively demonstrated that the thing could be done ; and it 
is being done. On February 8, 1911, Sir George Clarke laid 
the foundation-stone of the extensive works now being con- 
structed at Lonauli, and they will probably be completed in 
1913. Whole valleys are being dammed to hold up the 
water. The dams will be 8700 feet in length, and 32 to 70 
feet high, creating lakes 2521 acres in extent, of a capacity 
of 3000 miUion cubic feet, with a fall of 1730 feet. The 
power produced will be transmitted to the City of Bombay, 
a distance of 43 miles, and will be consumed by the cotton 
mills. The first estimate is for 30,000 electric horse-power, 

325 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

but this will ultimately be much exceeded. The initial 
capital is a million and a quarter sterling, and the money 
was entirely subscribed by Indians, among whom were several 
princes, who contributed two-thirds of the whole capital. 

The third scheme was that of the iron and steel industry 
I have already mentioned, and it was the project of Mr. 
Tata's with which Lord Curzon had most to do. The 
hydro-electric scheme chiefly rested with the Bombay 
Government. The inspiration in the third case came from 
Mr. Tata, who for some years had experts at work investi- 
gating the various iron-ore deposits in the Central Provinces 
and elsewhere ; but he died while the inquiries were in 
progress, and it was his sons, forming the firm of Tata, Sons 
and Co., who, as in the case of the hydro-electric project, 
framed and submitted the scheme which was ultimately 
accepted by Lord Curzon's Government. A hill of rich 
hematite iron was found in the native state of Mourbhanj, 
in the Orissa district of Bengal, as well as another in 
the Central Provinces. Coal and coke were obtainable 
from the Jherria coalfield, 130 miles away. Flux was 
furnished by deposits of dolomite and limestone near at 
hand. The great market and port of Calcutta was distant 
only 153 miles. A site for the iron and steel works was 
selected near the main line of the Bengal-Nagpur railway. 
Thus the difficulties which have so often prevented the 
development of iron and steel works in India were at last 
overcome. All the requisite materials could be assembled 
at no great cost, and the works could be constructed within 
easy reach of a port. 

Lord Curzon, on the advice of Sir John Hewett, then at 
the head of the Commerce and Industry Department, gave 
the scheme generous encouragement. He agreed to build 
a railway 45 miles long from the hill of iron to the proposed 
works ; to procure a reduction of railway freight charges on 
materials required for construction, on raw material, and on 
finished products sent for shipment to Calcutta, and to buy 

326 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

a large quantity of steel rails of prescribed quality every year 
instead of purchasing abroad, provided the price was the same. 

Stimulated by this assistance, the Tata brothers placed 
their scheme upon the market, and in 1907 floated a company 
which now has control of a capital of about £2,000,000, 
largely found by Indians. The whole of the preparations 
are practically complete. A new station has been made at 
Kalimati, on the main line. A railway has been built to 
the w:)rks at Sakchi, rather less than three miles away. 
Another line leads to Gurumaishimi, the hill of iron in the 
jungle, where 200,000 tons of very rich ore were long ago ready 
to be moved to the works. The company has eleven miles of 
railway in and around its sheds at Sakchi alone. About 
2500 men are being employed, of whom about 200 are 
Europeans imported for the steel-making processes. The 
industry will be run as far as possible with labour-saving 
machinery, and great care is being taken to organise the 
workmen on an efficient basis. The works can manufacture 
120,000 tons of pig-iron annually. Pig-iron will be made 
before the end of the year ; steel early in 1912 ; and the 
contract for 20,000 tons of steel rails annually for the 
Government of India is only one branch of the undertaking. 
Sir Thomas Holland has stated that the company has in 
sight all the ore it will require for many years to come, and 
that possibly the raw material may also be exported to 
Europe when rich ores are in demand. The whole enter- 
prise marks the dawn of a new era in Indian industrial 
development, and it is entirely the work of Indians, acting 
in conjunction with skilled European advice. 

I have already alluded to the supreme importance of 
guarding against the growth in India of those evils of 
industrialism which once were a blot upon England, and are 
still very visible in all Western countries. If we are to have 
factories and mines in India, let us at least try to make them 
a source of benefit and not of human misery. Indian 
employers of labour of the new school have not yet realised, 

327 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

as a class, that they owe a duty to their workpeople as well 
as to themselves. They are eager for profits, and sometimes 
do not care at what cost in human suffering their profits are 
obtained. There are happily many honourable exceptions, 
but the majority of Indian employers of industrial labour are 
indifferent to the welfare of their people. Dr. T. M. Nair, 
a Madras Hindu, who was a member of the Factory Com- 
mission of 1907-8, wrote at the end of his investigations : 

" I must confess . . . with shame that in my tour through- 
out India I found that my countrymen as a class were more 
unsympathetic and hard employers of labour than the 
European manufacturers. Of course there were many 
notable exceptions. But, speaking generally, the labourers 
fared worse under Indian employers than under European. 
Even some of the most enlightened and educated Indian 
gentlemen, with whom I discussed industrial questions, had 
not a single word of sympathy with the labourers to express. 
They were all anxious to make up for lost time, and to push 
on their industrial ventures and to accumulate wealth. But 
as for the workers, they were part of the machinery of pro- 
duction and nothing more." 

When Lord Curzon became Viceroy he found under 
consideration a Bill for the regulation and due inspection 
of mines. Up to that time Indian mines had never been 
properly inspected, and accidents were not reported. The 
Government of India had woven a wonderful web in which 
to enmesh mining prospectors ; they had done nothing for the 
protection of people who worked in mines already existing. 
The Bill remained under consideration for another two years, 
during which time it met with strong opposition from many 
mine-owners. It was to a great extent reconstructed before 
being finally passed in 1901. It regulated the employment 
of women and children, gave powers to draft rules for the 
safety and health of people working in mines, provided for 
proper inspection, and constituted Mining Boards, on which 
the mine-owners were represented, to which all rules were 

328 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

to be referred. By Lord Curzon's direction, a Department 
of Mines, with a Chief Inspector and assistants, was also 
organised. How urgent was the need for these measures 
was revealed by the Viceroy in the course of his speech on 
the passing of the Mines Act, when he said : 

" I . . . sent and asked Mr. Reader, the Officiating In- 
spector, for a special report. . . . What he told me was that, 
in his many inspections, he had repeatedly found an utter 
disregard for human life, resulting partly from ignorance, 
and partly from carelessness, and that many mines were 
conducted upon such inhuman lines — these were his own 
words — that some immediate remedial action ought to be 
taken. ... In many of the mines the head -gear and wind- 
ing apparatus were unsafe. Elsewhere there was no attempt 
at proper ventilation. Frequently the managers were absent, 
and the work was proceeding under no sort of control. . . . 
In one case, in a Bengal coal-mine, Mr. Reader found two 
hundred and fifty people (men, women, children, and infants) 
at work, where he reported the ventilation as nil, the air as 
foul in the extreme with smoke and gases, and the con- 
ditions as unfit for human existence. ... In two other 
gaseous mines, w^here the managers were absent, and incom- 
petent substitutes had been left in charge, he found huge 
fires kindled in the working galleries, and naked lights sus- 
pended from the roof where the cutting was going on. . . . 
Again, he says that infants are allowed to be carried and put 
to sleep in foul places incompatible with health or safety." 

The context, which I have omitted, indicates that the 
conditions described were by no means general, and that in 
many mines precautions were taken, and the health and 
safety of the workpeople cared for ; but the passages quoted 
show that mining legislation had become imperative. It 
should also be said that the offending mine-owners were 
certainly not all Indians. 

It was unfortunate that Lord Curzon was never able to 
undertake similar measures for the benefit of the factory 
workers of India, who in his day had already reached the 

329 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

large total of 632,000. He was not unmindful of their 
defective conditions of labour, and drew attention to the 
need for remedial measures. Had it not been for his pre- 
mature departure, he would probably have dealt with the 
whole question. The issue raised by the oppressive con- 
ditions under which many mill operatives were working in 
India became acute in the last year of Lord Curzon's 
Viceroyalty. It was handled on broad and comprehensive 
lines by Lord Minto, and its final settlement represents the 
first important result of Lord Hardinge's Viceroyalty. The 
passing of the Indian Factories Act of 1911, and the institu- 
tion of a legal twelve-hours day for textile workers in India, 
was to a considerable extent due to my own intervention. 
I have refrained throughout this volume from alluding to any 
occasional participation on my part, or on the part of the j ournal 
with which I was connected, in any of the events or move- 
ments narrated ; but I am moved to be less reluctant in this 
one instance, for reasons which I will afterwards explain. 

At the beginning of 1905 the system of factory inspec- 
tion in India had partly broken down. There was a Factory 
Act, but in certain respects it had become almost a dead 
letter. The Government were meticulous in insisting upon 
the fencing of machinery, but seemed to think that their 
responsibility ended at that point. In the City of Bombay 
there were 79 cotton mills, employing a daily average of 
114,000 people; yet every officer associated with the in- 
spection of the Bombay factories had many other things 
to do. The " Chief Inspector of Factories " was the 
Assistant Collector, usually a young civil servant. In 1905 
this post was held by six different men, all inexperienced, 
and generally indisposed to regard factory inspection as a 
serious part of their manifold duties. The single whole- 
time factory inspector was chiefly employed in checking 
produce under the Cotton Excise Act, for the Government 
carefully looked after their dues. The surgeons who were 
supposed to certify the ages of children employed in factories 

330 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

could give very little time to the work, which was per- 
functorily done. The officer upon whom devolved the 
important task of inspecting the sanitary condition of the 
mills, their water-supply and ventilation, and above all, the 
observance of the laws about children, was a functionary 
styled " the Personal Assistant to the Surgeon-General." 
He was a sort of private secretary, whose principal task was 
to keep the medical stores of the province ; and the idea 
that, in addition to his normal duties, he could inspect 79 
huge cotton mills, and many other factories, spread over an 
area of several square miles, was ludicrous. It was only 
natural that under such a system the provisions of the 
Factory Act were systematically evaded. In Calcutta the 
failure of factory inspection, and the evils which followed in 
its train, were even more apparent. One Calcutta mill 
manager frankly admitted to the second Factory Labour 
Commission that he had taken no notice of the Factory 
Act. Another manager elsewhere, whose mill employed 
nearly 400 children, actually affirmed that he had never 
heard of a Factory Act imposing restrictions on child 
labour ; and I can quite believe it. 

The scandals of factory labour in India, and the neglect 
of the Government to exercise proper supervision, were 
disclosed in a rather curious way. For many years the 
Indian mills were only worked from sunrise to sunset, and 
in the tropics, where there is no long twilight, and darkness 
comes early, the hours represented no abnormal hardship. 
At length it occurred to some enterprising individual in 
Bombay that if he installed electric light in his mill he 
might run his machinery a little longer. He did so, with 
such results that by 1905 there were 39 mills lit by electricity 
in the City of Bombay alone. The Bombay mill industry 
is based upon unsatisfactory principles. Most of the mills 
are managed by firms which act as '* agents," and the agents 
are remunerated, not upon profits, but by commission upon 
out-turn. They receive a small sum upon every pound of 

331 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

yarn they make, and production is thereby stimulated with- 
out regard to the state of the market. In 1905 there was 
a "boom" in the mill industry. The mills were pouring 
out their products, and great profits were being made. 
The value of mill shares rose in sympathy. Mill managers 
in the happy possession of the electric light continually 
extended their hours of labour; mills without electricity 
clamoured for installations. Very soon there weie sixteen 
mills working from at least 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., and some of 
these even continued until 8.35 p.m. or longer. Allowing 
for the statutory half-hour stoppage in the middle of the 
day, the operatives had to do from 14| to 15 hours of actual 
labour, and I believe there were even worse cases. The 
other mills possessing electric light were working from 13 to 
14 hours. The operatives never saw their homes in daylight. 
They were the victims of the masters, and, as I satisfied 
myself, the unwilling victims. It must be remembered that 
they were working in fierce tropical heat, in a badly drained 
district full of mephitic exhalations, within mills some of which 
were old and dimly lighted, where windows were never opened 
and the foul air was stifling ; but I will refrain from details. 
The competition grew so intense that there seemed no 
limit to the hours likely to be worked. Early in August 
the Bombay mill-owners held their annual meeting. Sir 
Henry Procter, who is connected with the mill industry, 
but had not increased the hours of work in his mills, 
reproached the offlending mill-owners, saying : " To swell your 
profits you are ready to sink all feelings of humanity, and 
to sweat your mill hands to any extent." It was not, he 
said, a question of competition with Lancashire, but " a 
question of increasing profits, which are already anything 
between 20 per cent, and 50 per cent." Mr. Bomanjee 
Dinshaw Petit used even stronger language, and declared 
that there were 32 mills working 15 hours a day, a state- 
ment which may have been correct then, though I could not 
verify it at a later date. Both urged the adoption of a twelve- 

332 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

hours day, and a resolution in favour of such a restrictiom 
was passed. Not a single one of the offenders acted upon 
it, and some of them told me afterwards that they thought 
it a *' formal thing." There was no infraction of the law in 
keeping the mills at work day and night. The hours of adult 
male labour were not regulated, and such enactments as 
existed only applied to the hours of women and children. 

A week or two afterwards I intervened. My original 
intention was to visit one or two mills late at night to 
notice the condition of the operatives as they ceased work. 
Almost immediately I discovered that in addition to the 
undue exploitation of adult labour, there were shameful 
abuses of child labour about which nobody had said a word. 
I believe the majority of the mill-owners concerned were 
unaware of the conditions under which children were work- 
ing ; but their ignorance did not lessen their responsibility. 
These discoveries were quite unexpected, and I determined 
to probe further. Before the mill-owners were aware of my 
proceedings, I had, in the company of an expert, inspected 
many of their mills at all hours from before dawn until long- 
after dark, held informal meetings of the operatives, visited 
the people in their wretched homes, looked at good mills 
as well as bad ones, and collected abundant evidence both 
as to general conditions and as to the conditions of child 
labour. What I saw was far worse than I had been led to 
expect ; but I will not describe it afresh, nor will I pause to 
tell in detail of the number of stunted infants under the 
legal age for employment, of the worn and haggard children 
compelled to masquerade as adults on false certificates, and 
of the utter disregard of the law limiting the hours in which 
children could work. 

I wrote a page for TJie Times of India describing the 
results of my inquiries. I did not seek to emulate Charles 
Kingsley and Tom Hood ; it was a plain statement of facts. 
The Manchester Guardian, which reprinted my article, said 
that it was " a terrible indictment " ; but if that was the 

333 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

case, it was the facts which made it so. I called upon the 
mill-owners to stop their long hours ; urged the Government 
to enforce their neglected laws ; and pointed out that the 
only way to remedy the gross oppression of textile workers 
in India was to pass an Act limiting the hours of adult 
male labour in factories. The efforts at voluntary agree- 
ment had failed. I advocated a legal twelve-hours day. 
It may sound a mockery, to Australians in particular, but 
it was all that could be hoped for in India. 

Not a mill-owner budged. The Bombay Government 
were in the hills, there was not a single responsible official 
of high rank in Bombay, the Viceroy had just resigned. 
Nothing was done until my articles reached England, when 
the Manchester Guardian and other newspapers took the 
matter up, and telegrams began to arrive. Meanwhile the 
native Press, without an exception, had warmly supported 
the cause of the operatives, and fully endorsed my state- 
ments ; it was one of those occasions the recollection of 
which makes one slow to criticise native newspapers. The 
Bombay Presidency Association appointed a committee, 
presided over by Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, to inquire into the 
question, though I do not think it ever met. I continued 
my crusade. A day or two later Sir Sassoon David, the 
Chairman of the Mill-owners' Association, informed me that, 
as an example, he would give up the use of electric light in 
his mills. Sir Currimbhoy Ebrahim simultaneously sent a 
notification that he would introduce a twelve-hours day at 
once, and Sir Jacob Sassoon, who employed 12,000 hands, 
did the same. They were all humane employers, and it was 
not against them that I had been agitating, though through- 
out I mentioned no names. Other mill-owners followed 
suit, but many still refused. 

A new complication arose. The mill operatives began 
to demonstrate at night against the mills which continued 
working excessive hours. Windows were smashed and 
property destroyed, and there was a certain amount of mild 

334 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

rioting. The police authorities were anxious, and so was I. 
In previous years I had seen more than one riot in Bombay, 
and the riots of 1908 afterwards showed what the city is 
capable of when it gets out of hand. My position was 
embarrassing. The European community were mostly un- 
sympathetic, because many held mill shares, which had 
temporarily declined in value owing to my agitation. The 
native Press was generous in its support, but most Indian 
owners of mill shares were wrathful. To add to the difficulties, 
the Prince and Princess of Wales were even then passing 
down the Red Sea on their way to Bombay. The attitude 
of the police was summed up in the statement : " If you 
don't drop it there may be grave disorders just when the 
Prince and the Viceroy are arriving, and you will be blamed 
by the Government and everybody." I refused to desist, 
but it was plain that the recalcitrant mill-owners had to be 
firmly dealt with by somebody. Had there been a single 
representative of the Bombay Government at hand official 
influence might have been brought to bear ; but as happens 
during the greater part of the year, the city, with its million 
inhabitants, had been left to take care of itself. There was 
only one alternative remaining. Next day I became my 
own Lloyd George, and though very few of the mill-owners 
knew it, the resolution which all were forced to accept, 
agreeing temporarily to a twelve-hours day, was drafted by 
me. The electric lights were turned out, and from that 
time the victory was won. 

The remainder of the story must be told in a few words. 
The resolution I had drafted declared at its close that the 
Mill-owners' Association, " while adhering to its opinion that 
shorter hours are desirable, cannot bind itself permanently to 
adopt any limitation which is confined to Bombay only." It 
was meant to compel the Government to take general legis- 
lative action. A decline of trade, and the pressure of public 
opinion, alike prevented any reversion to the former long 
hours. But the question was not allowed to lapse. Lord 

335 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Morley appointed a Committee, with Sir Hamilton Freer- 
Smith as President, to investigate factory conditions in 
India, and this was followed by a larger Factory Commission. 
My statements regarding Bombay were amply confirmed by 
the reports of both Commissions, which further showed that 
in some other parts of India there were even worse abuses 
in factories. The ultimate result was that in March 1911 
the Government of India passed an Act restricting adult 
male operatives in textile factories (and in other factories 
when considered necessary) to a twelve-hours day, amending 
and strengthening the law in regard to the employment of 
women and children, and providing an efficient system of 
factory inspection. The Act introduces a new principle 
into the Indian industrial system, and marks a great advance 
in Indian industrial legislation. It is due to the Bombay 
mill-owners to say that they were never reluctant, even at 
the outset, to accept a legal twelve-hours day ; but they 
objected to restricting their mills to twelve hours while their 
competitors in other provinces remained unfettered. The 
objection was somewhat academic, because very few cotton 
mills outside Bombay had the electric light. 

I have ventured to state at some length my share in the 
earlier stages of this movement for two reasons. The first 
is that Anglo-Indian newspapers are constantly charged 
with fomenting race-hatred and with indifference to the 
interests of the Indian people. No one brings this accusa- 
tion more frequently or more recklessly than the members 
of the English Labour Party. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald 
states in his book that he " never saw a really sympathetic 
article on Indian affairs" in The Times of India; I can only 
say that he must have read it very rarely, for I believe its 
policy remains unaltered. Except that they sent two 
members to join in the original deputation to Lord Morley, 
the English Labour Party did nothing at all to help the 
movement for the emancipation of the mill operatives of 
India. Two or three members of the party visited India 

3;3r> 



COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

while the Bill was under consideration ; they wrote a great 
deal about land revenue and the partition of Bengal, but not 
a word about the conditions of industrial labour and the 
measure introduced to ameliorate it. When the Bill was 
nearly wrecked, through the pliancy of the Commerce 
Member, Mr. Clark, as happened at one stage, they made no 
effort to save it. The English Labour Partv is accused of 

O V 

being out of touch with the workers in England ; if India's 
experience of their representatives is any criterion, the 
accusation is not a matter for surprise. This was a Bill 
which gave a new charter to the operatives of India ; it saved 
the children employed in Indian factories from shameful 
exploitation : it embodied (in a still indequate form) a great 
principle of vital importance to the whole future of organised 
Indian industrialism ; and it was introduced almost solely in 
consequence of the agitation conducted by an Anglo-Indian 
newspaper. I believe that some such Bill must at some 
future time have been passed by the Government in any 
case ; that it came when it did was due to The Times of 
India. The policy of the paper at that juncture was not 
new, but carried on a continuous tradition. JNIy predecessor 
in the editorial chair, Mr. T. J. Bennett, was presented on 
his departure with an address from thousands of the agri- 
culturists of Gujerat for the persistency with which he had 
advocated their grievances. 

My other reason for dwelling on this episode is that I 
wished to illustrate the situations which sometimes arise in 
the great cities of India as a result of the wholesale migra- 
tions of the provincial Governments to the hills. One 
prominent member of the Bombay Government might have 
quelled the menace of disorder which was suddenly revealed ; 
but in the whole city there was no one able to exercise 
sufficient influence upon the mill-owners, and though the 
police did their best, they were powerless. On another 
occasion, in a moment of serious emergency, I found that in 
the vast Bombay Secretariat the senior representative of the 

337 Y 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Bombay Government, the sole embodiment of high executive 
authority, was an elderly Parsi clerk in red satin trousers. 
The entire higher organisation of the Government, down to 
the last junior Under-Secretary, was in the hills, a day's 
journey away. This is a subject to which I shall revert later ; 
and meanwhile I will only say that we cannot expect to 
continue to control India upon the principles of St. Moritz. 

My apology for this personal divagation is that it has 
some direct concern both with Indian industry and with the 
affairs of India during and after Lord Curzon's Administra- 
tion ; and I have preferred in this chapter to dwell upon the 
events of the period rather than to enter upon a discussion 
of general principles. One other point must be noted. 
Lord Curzon never failed to acknowledge that the success 
of his commercial, financial, and industrial policy was largely 
due to the work of his predecessors. He claimed at the end 
of his Administration that there had been an enormous 
improvement, that there was everywhere more money in 
the country, in circulation, in reserves, in investments, in 
deposits, and in the pockets of the people ; that the wages of 
labour had risen, that the standards of living among the 
poorest had gone up, that they employed conveniences and 
even luxuries which a quarter of a century ago were un- 
dreamed of, thereby indicating an all-round increase of 
purchasing power; and that wherever taxation could be 
held to pinch, his Government had reduced it. But he 
added : " The whole point of my argument is that the 
improvement dates from the closing of the Mints by Lord 
Lansdowne and Sir David Barbour ; and though it is in my 
time that the fruits have been mainly reaped, the seeds were 
sown by them." 



338 



X 

FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

The word " fiscal " serves to include a brief reference to 
Lord Curzon's financial policy, as well as some consideration 
of the Indian tariff problem. The next important question 
which will arise for settlement in India will undoubtedly be 
the request of the Indian people that the Indian tariff shall 
be settled and maintained in greater accordance with their 
wishes. No suggestion of disloyalty will be involved ; nor 
will the request imply any hostility to British rule, unless it 
is blindly refused, in which event it may produce a graver 
form of hostility than any yet encountered. It will be a 
perfectly constitutional demand, preferred in a constitutional 
manner ; and it will raise a moral issue transcending in mag- 
nitude any yet presented to Great Britain by India. We 
invite the whole world to witness that we are in India for 
the benefit of the Indian people and not for our own. Are 
we sure that in all respects we are justifying the boast? 
We have recently enlarged the liberties of India. Are we 
sure that we are willing to listen to her voice now that it is 
more audible ? 

This is the one issue on which, I believe, practically the 
whole of India is united. All the communities, Hindus 
and Mahomedans, Loyalists and Anarchists, Congress and 
Moslem League, the bulk of the silent civil servants, most 
of the non-official Europeans, take the view that the Indian 
tariff must be settled in the interests of India ; and 
they believe that at present the interests of England are 

339 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

considered first. The belief may not be entirely well founded, 
but we have given ample cause for its existence. Imperial 
Preference does not enter into the matter, though it may 
come later ; at present the question is that of India's right 
to a hearing in the settlement of her own tariff. Though 
not yet acute, the issue may soon become so, and there 
seems every possibility that a very curious position will then 
be produced. On the one hand will be ranged most of the 
non-ofiicial members of the new Imperial Council ; on the 
other will be the Secretary of State and Parliament ; and 
between them will stand the official members of the Council, 
nearly all of them sympathising with the demand of the 
Indian people, but all directed to vote according to the 
dictates of the India Office. 

Such a situation cannot long continue. The Secretary 
of State will be compelled either to give greater freedom to 
the Government of India in tariff matters, or to mould 
afresh the spirit in which Indian tariff questions are 
approached at Whitehall. Whichever course he pursues, 
he is likely to have an uncomfortable time in Parliament ; 
while if he refuses to move at all, the consequences in India 
may be serious. Let it be noted that the key to the posi- 
tion is the attitude of the Government of India and their 
representatives in the Imperial Council. They are the real 
trustees of the British control in India. In them lies our 
safeguard, and on them we must depend. They will never 
consent, for instance, to any measure which would grievously 
impair the efficiency of the defences of India; but in an 
issue such as this, in which most of them agree with the 
people of India, what is the Secretary of State to do ? I 
will not dwell upon the point, but it must be obvious that 
the tariff question in India cannot for ever remain in its 
present position. 

Lord Curzon found that! one tariff problem of con- 
siderable importance was awaiting decision when he arrived. 
Bounty-fed beet sugar had been driven from the United 

340 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

States by heavy countervailing duties in 1897. The beet- 
growers had found a fresh market in India. The Indian 
sugar crop occupied an important place in the agricultural 
industries of the country. It had been valued at £20,000,000, 
and was estimated to employ two million people ; but within 
recent years the area under sugar had declined by 13 per 
cent., and many refineries had been closed. Other causes, 
including famine, had partly contributed to bring about 
this result; but there could be no doubt that imports of 
bounty-fed sugar were at that time chiefly responsible. 
With the consent of the Secretary of State, an Act was 
passed on March 20, 1899, conferring on the Government 
of India power to impose countervailing duties on imported 
sugar, where necessary, up to the full extent of the State 
bounties. On that occasion the Viceroy said : 

" Bounties are in themselves an arbitrary, and in my 
opinion a vicious, economic expedient designed in exclu- 
sively selfish interests. They are inconsistent with Free 
Trade, because they extinguish freedom, and they reverse 
the natural currents of trade. To meet them by a counter- 
vailing duty is to redress the balance and to restore the 
conditions under which trade resumes its freedom. I do 
not think that we need pay much attention, therefore, to 
the mutterings of the high priests at Free Trade shrines. 
Their oracles do not stand precisely at their original premium. 
This is not a question of economic orthodoxy or heterodoxy ; 
it is a question of re-establishing a fiscal balance which has 
been deflected for their own advantage and to our injury by 
certain of our foreign competitors." 

I quote this passage, not because there is any special 
importance in the denunciation of bounties, about which 
most people are agreed, but rather because it contains hints 
which suggest a certain consistency of view upon the Free 
Trade question, with which Lord Curzon has not always 
been credited to the extent to which he is entitled. The 

841 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

new Act did not have the expected effect, for imports of 
bounty-fed sugar continued to increase. The explanation 
was disclosed at the Brussels Convention in 1901, when it 
was found that a new system of indirect bounties had been 
devised, by which German and Austrian producers were 
still able artificially to force their way into the Indian 
market. Fresh legislation was accordingly introduced by 
the Government of India to deal with the altered conditions, 
and it met with success ; but it did not materially ameliorate 
the condition of the Indian sugar industry. 

When the second Act was passed. Lord Curzon said to 
the sugar growers and refiners : " We are giving you a fresh 
lease of life now. Prove yourselves deserving of the favour. 
Reform your methods, modernise your machinery, improve 
the manufactured article." But though the bounties were 
foiled, the indigenous industry remained stagnant. Cane 
sugar poured in from Mauritius and Java. The produce of 
a British colony was not unwelcome, but the enormous 
growth of the Java imports suggests reflections. Mr. Noel- 
Paton reported that in 1910-11 over 91 per cent, of Indian 
imports of sugar came from Java; and the Java planters 
dominated the market by scientific cultivation and organised 
trading. The Pioneer stated that in that year India bought 
over £8,000,000 worth of foreign sugar, much of which 
might have been grown in the country. Even Austrian 
beet sugar still finds a respectable place in the imports in 
some years. India is in the remarkable position of being at 
once the largest grower and largest importer of sugar of any 
country in the world. Steps are being taken to improve 
Indian methods of production, but a far more elaborate and 
scientific organisation of the whole industry is required. 
The Government were asked in the Imperial Council in 
March 1911 to inquire further into the matter, and gave a 
reply which seemed unnecessarily discouraging. Dr. Royle 
has stated that India could produce enough cane to swamp 
the world's market. 

342 






FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

There were afterwards during Lord Curzon's Adminis- 
tration other cases of retahation through the tariff, though 
of less importance. 

The far larger question of preferential tariffs within the 
British Empire came before the Government of India in 
1903, in consequence of the resolution passed at the Colonial 
Conference in 1902. The Government of India drafted a 
despatch, which has since become famous. It contained the 
following passage. 

" Our conclusions ... as to the terms on which India 
might participate in a policy of preferential tariffs within 
the Empire are as follows : 

''Firstly^ that without any such system, India already 
enjoys a large, probably an exceptionally large, measure of 
the advantages of the free exchange of imports and exports. 

" Secondly, that if the matter is regarded exclusively from 
an economic standpoint, India has something, but not 
perhaps very much, to offer to the Empire ; that she has 
very little to gain in return ; and that she has a great deal 
to lose or to risk. 

" Thirdly y that in a financial aspect, the danger to India of 
reprisals by foreign nations, even if eventually unsuccessful, 
is so serious and their results would be so disastrous, that we 
should not be justified in embarking on any new policy of 
the kind unless assured of benefits greater and more certain 
than any which have, so far, presented themselves to our 
mind." 

The despatch pointed out that India was a debtor 
country, that her exports largely exceeded her imports, that 
the bulk of her exports were raw materials, and that a 
considerable proportion of them went to foreign countries, 
where they were mostly admitted duty free. It closed by 
offering to retaliate upon foreign countries where necessary, 
if they tried to penalise Indian trade because the United 
Kingdom adopted preferential tariffs, but asked for a freer 
hand in their fiscal policy. 

343 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

There is no getting behind the fact that, despite the 
many quaHfications of the context, the conclusions I have 
quoted were extremely emphatic. They were far too 
emphatic at such an early stage of a new movement ; and 
I cannot help thinking that if all the signatories of the 
despatch were alive to-day, and in the positions they then 
held, they would not now state their collective views in the 
same form. It has since been acknowledged that the real 
idea which lay at the back of the Government of India's 
despatch was that the views of India would not receive fair 
consideration. This was gently indicated by a remark in 
the despatch itself, as follows : 

*' All past experience indicates that in the decision of any 
fiscal question concerning this country, powerful sections of 
the community at home will continue to demand that their 
interests, and not those of India alone, shall be allowed 
consideration." 

Mr. Chamberlain, in his original proposals, had postulated 
a position in which India should be treated as a self-govern- 
ing colony, and should only participate in any fiscal change 
to the degree to which she was willing. But who was to 
decide for India ? The Secretary of State. And can any 
Secretary of State be depended on to give fair consideration 
to the fiscal interests of India ? Lord Ciirzon himself gave 
a blunt answer to the question in the debate on preferen- 
tial trade in the House of Lords on May 21, 1908, when 
he said : 

" What has been our experience in the past in India of 
the manner in which the influence and power of the 
Secretary of State, as the ultimate ruler of India, are 
exerted in the direction of the fiscal policy of India ? It is 
that in fiscal matters the Government of India has to take 
the views of the Secretary of State, whether it agrees with 
them or not ; and those views are more likely to be guided and 
shaped by English than by purely Indian considerations." 

844 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

Explaining the motives which prompted the despatch of 
1903, he said in the same debate : 

" JNIay I confess that our real apprehensions, when 
drawing up the despatch, about the fiscal future of India, 
were not so much economic as political ? We said to 
ourselves, ' What guarantee should we have, if any new 
system were proposed, that India would have free speech 
in the discussion of the subject or a free judgment in its 
decision ? ' " 

The only possible reply is that it would have been better 
to have stated these apprehensions more clearly, instead of 
setting forth so unreservedly the conclusions I have quoted, 
which are the pith and marrow of the whole despatch. I do 
not think the despatch was well drafted, and I cannot think 
it conveyed the impression which it was apparently intended 
to convey. Its two principal authors were unquestionably 
the Viceroy and the Finance ^linister, the late Sir Edward 
Law. 1 can only quote their own later declarations. In his 
introduction to Mr. IM. de P. Webb's excellent little book, 
"India and the Empire," pubHshed in 1908, Sir Edward 
Law finished by giving an explanation, not of views newly 
formed, but of the intention of the despatch. After quoting 
from the actual text of the despatch, he went on to say : 

" In these words the Government of India practically 
declared for a policy of retaliation. It remains for the 
Home Government, which may introduce tariff reform, to 
formulate such proposals as will justify India in accepting 
also the policy of Imperial Preference. And such proposals 
can be formulated." 

Lord Curzon, in the speech I have already quoted, said : 
" We had no objection in principle to a system of preferential 
tariffs " ; and he closed his speech thus : 

" If we could understand that in any Imperial Conference 
which takes place the interests of India would be fairly 
considered ; if a pledge could be given that no system will 

345 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

be forced on her in deference to pressure from England, or 
from any part of England, which is not suited to her own 
interests, and that she will not be called upon to accept any 
system devised exclusively in the interests of England, and 
that in the event of no such solution being found practicable 
she will be left in the enjoyment of the degree of fiscal 
liberty which she now enjoys, then I believe that India, so 
far as I have any right to speak on her behalf, would gladly 
join in any such Conference as I have spoken of, and that 
she would welcome any practical scheme of fiscal reform 
embracing preferential tariffs within the Empire, because 
she is already in favour of the main principles which underlie 
that reform, and because in the respects to w^hich I have re- 
ferred she has already put into practical operation some of the 
most effective means of carrying those principles into effect." 

I shall say nothing more of the despatch of 1903, except 
that I think it was hasty. I express this belief in spite of 
Lord Curzon's declaration in 1905 that it was " composed 
with due deliberation." I have quoted the views sub- 
sequently expressed by its two principal authors, who are 
best entitled to be heard on the subject with which it dealt. 
At Manchester, on January 5, 1910, Lord Curzon explained 
his views in much greater detail, thus : 

" There is another bogey which was accepted by Mr. 
Winston Churchill. ... It is a bogey produced to frighten 
the Lancashire working man, but it is not more substantial 
than the others, and is, like them, a creature of pasteboard 
and paint. It is the argument that if England decided for 
Tariff Reform, India will not merely abolish the counter- 
vailing excise on the cotton products of her mills, but will 
impose protective duties upon your cotton exports and upon 
English manufacturers in general. This fear is a mere 
chimera. I do not suppose any one in India ever stood up 
more strongly for the fiscal rights of the Indian people than 
myself, or that any one ever pleaded more energetically that 
Indian industries and economic principles should not be 
sacrificed to the interests either of the United Kingdom or 
any part of it. But I recognise that India is not in a posi- 

346 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

tion to take up the attitude I have described. She is not a 
self-governing colony. She does not enjoy the powers, 
cannot speak with the voice, and cannot claim the rights of 
a self-governing colony. The Government of India is in the 
last resort vested in the House of Commons. It is exercised 
by the Cabinet and by the particular member of the Cabinet 
appointed to be Secretary of State. He is in the last resort 
the real Government of India. Is it likely that any Secre- 
tary of State will rise in the House of Commons and seriously 
propose that India should be allowed to treat this country 
as, for instance, it might Germany or the United States ? 
It would be a declaration not merely of fiscal independence 
— it would almost amount to a declaration of hostihty 
between the two countries. If Lancashire is really frightened 
that such a thing might befall their nerves must be strangely 
unstrung. . . . 

" What, then, would become of India under any scheme 
of Tariff Reform ? I think it would be presumptuous and 
highly improper for me on an electioneering platform to 
supply any answer to that question. But this I will say — 
that there are certain conditions and principles which might 
be laid down and expected. The first is that no change 
should be forced upon India that is not accepted by pubUc 
opinion in the country so far as it can be ascertained — public 
opinion, not merely of the officials, but of all the representa- 
tive classes in India, who are becoming more articulate as 
time goes on. Secondly, that in any change, if such be 
contemplated, India must not be left worse off than now, 
and if her present position cannot be improved, it would be 
better to leave well alone. Thirdly, that, if possible, an 
endeavour should be made to strengthen her financial and 
fiscal position with a view to the development of her own 
manufactures." 

There is nothing in these passages with which I disagree ; 
they are not in conflict with the considerations set forth at the 
beginning of this chapter ; but I would state the issue rather 
differently. The demand for greater fiscal liberty in India 
is being presented somewhat blindly and wildly. Requests 
are preferred for complete fiscal autonomy, without sufficient 

347 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

recognition of the probable results upon the Indian people 
of any unfettered concession. If the Indian manufacturers, 
who are still rather crude economists, had their way, they 
would at once raise a blind wall of tariffs against not only 
Great Britain, but against every country. In the interests 
of India — and certainly not in the interests of England — 
such a mischievous policy is to be deprecated. So long as 
Great Britain has control of India, our first duty is to guard 
Indian interests. These interests would be directly impaired 
by a measure of complete fiscal autonomy. There is no 
country in the world where the people are more prone to 
depend upon the Government than upon themselves. A 
high tariff, such as many Indian politicians would like to 
impose, would in the long run impoverish India without 
developing her industries. I have shown what happened in 
the case of sugar. The Sugar Duties Acts killed the trade 
in bounty-fed sugar ; but they did not put new life into the 
indigenous sugar industry. The chief demand for high pro- 
tection in India comes from the textile industries. Their busi- 
ness is not at present conducted, except in certain well-known 
instances, on sound economic lines. It would be injudicious 
to allow them to find a refuge from defective organisation, 
careless methods of management, inattention to deprecia- 
tion, and wrong basis of payment for control, behind a high 
tariff. They need better protection than they now receive, and 
they should be relieved from manifest fiscal disabilities ; but 
that is a very different thing from complete fiscal autonomy. 
The observations I have made are only meant to in- 
dicate what would happen if the people of India controlled 
their own tariff; but so long as the present system of 
British control continues, such an unqualified concession is 
in any case out of the question. The proper remedies are 
that the Government of India should, in consultation with 
the representatives of the people, be given a larger voice in 
the settlement of tariff policy ; and the Secretary of State, 
whose ultimate control of fiscal matters should remain 

348 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

unimpaired, should make his decisions with regard to Indian 
interests rather than to Enghsh votes. 

As to Imperial Preference, the difficulty which many 
people interested in India feel is that the Tariff Reform 
party as a whole has never fully faced the Indian aspect 
of the question. It has not studied it, and shows a dis- 
position to ignore it. Individual Tariff Reformers have made 
satisfactory declarations. Lord Curzon's views have been 
quoted. Lord Milner, who may be regarded as occupy- 
ing a detached standpoint, said in the Lords' debate in 1908 : 

" My contention is that there are obvious respects in 
which India will benefit from the system of preferential 
trade within the Empire, and that the fear that she will be 
damaged depends entirely upon the assumption that foreign 
Governments wdll try to strike at us through India — -to 
punish us for adopting a principle in our own tariff legislation 
which they all adopt themselves. But I do not believe in 
the least in this bugbear that foreign nations are going to 
turn round and punish us for doing what they all do." 

Nor do I. Far too much has been made of the danger 
of retaliation upon Indian exports. I believe in a policy of 
Imperial Preference for the whole Empire, though I hold 
that the necessity for joint defence will prove a greater 
unifying influence than inter-Imperial trade. I think that a 
policy could be framed which, while not conferring very 
marked benefits upon India, would still present sufficient 
inducements to bring India within its scope ; but I urge 
that it is practically impossible to discuss such a policy until 
the Tariff Reform party as a whole, and not individual 
members thereof, declares its position with regard to India. 
One preliminary difficulty blocks the way. Upon it the 
whole fiscal question in India at present turns. Before 
India can consider the question of Imperial Preference in 
any form, the excise duties upon cotton cloth must be 
abolished. 

349 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

There is no need to enter at length into the story of the 
Indian cotton excise duties. In a letter addressed to The 
Times on June 2, 1908, Lord Curzon summarised the whole 
history of the attitude of the Lancashire cotton trade 
towards the Indian industry, and incidentally made his own 
position entirely clear. He said he did not wish to revive 
old controversies, or even to blame Lancashire for the 
defence of what she regarded as paramount interests of her 
own ; but he remarked that in what had occurred it was " a 
protective policy pure and simple that she was enforcing in 
her own interests." 

The gradual abolition of the Indian Customs Tariff 
during a series of years which ended in 1882 represents 
issues which may well be regarded as closed. In 1894 India 
was in financial difficulties, and decided to levy a new tariff of 
5 per cent. I^ancashire objected to the inclusion of cotton 
goods in the tariff. Sir Henry Fowler, then Secretary of 
State for India, decided to retain cotton in the tariff, but to 
impose an equivalent countervailing excise duty on all 
cotton yarns above a certain quality produced in the Indian 
mills. In a debate in the House of Commons on 
February 21, 1895, Sir Henry Fowler defended his policy in 
a memorable speech. That speech contained one statement 
which was certainly ingenuous, under the circumstances. 
He said : "I believe I have tried to do my duty to 
India as Indian Secretary, and that I have not neglected 
the interests of Lancashire." Such dual efforts were at 
that moment quite incompatible with fairness to Indian 
interests. 

In India the excise duties were bitterly resented. Sir 
William Lee-Warner, then a member of the Viceregal 
Legislative Council, had previously declared in debate that 
the non-official vote in the Council was solidly cast in favour 
of the admission of cotton goods to the tariff, and that it 
was "justly so cast." VVhy, then, did the Government of 

350 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

India make so poor a fight for Indian interests ? An article 
in The Times of India of June 17, 1908, offered an explana- 
tion which seems probable. It stated : " If we consider the 
composition of the Government of India at that time we 
shall realise that the causes of the unconditional surrender 
of 1894 were to a large extent personal and ephemeral." I 
am unaware of the authorship of this particular article, but 
it revealed a certain intimacy with the episode. In 1896 
the duties were altered by Lord George Hamilton, for 
neither political party in England has any monopoly of 
guilt in this matter. Cotton twist and yarns were exempted 
from import and export duties of all kinds, while a duty of 
3j per cent, was imposed on woven goods of all qualities, 
whether imported or manufactured in India. The change 
was in the further interests of Lancashire, for technical 
reasons which need not be discussed. 

There are two stock arguments advanced in Lancashire 
and elsewhere in defence of the excise duties. The first is 
that the present arrangement keeps the price of cloth low, 
and therefore benefits the poor of India. The argument is 
fallacious, and in any case does not apply to any material 
extent, for the fabrics imported into India from Lancashire 
are not bought by the very poor, despite the assertions of 
IVIr. Enever Todd. The second argument, on which greater 
stress is laid, is that the excise duties are in pursuance of 
" our traditional Free Trade policy between India and our- 
selves." Dr. Cunningham, in his book, " The Case Against 
Free Trade," has pointed out that in reality the duties come 
" very near to insistence on protection for the Mother 
Country." The point was stated far more strongly by 
Lord Curzon in his letter to The Times, but for my purpose 
it need not be elaborated. 

In any case, the second argument is an absolute negation 
of the whole policy propounded by Tariff Reformers. They 
cannot consistently advance the plea that the duties repre- 
sent a Free Trade policy. To do them justice, they make 

351 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

no such attempt, as a rule, though Mr. Richard J ebb, in a 
letter to The Times in 1910, actually stated that the system 
of " Free Trade " in cotton, and the excise duties, were to 
be maintained " in part consideration of the benefits offered 
to India through Preference." The attitude of those among 
them who tell Lancashire that the excise duties will be main- 
tained is usually far more elementary. It is summed up in 
a speech delivered by ]\Ir. Bonar Law, at Manchester, on 
November 8, 1910, from which the following is an extract : 

" India, as you all know, is our greatest export market 
for cotton. In that market we now compete on equal 
terms with our Indian fellow-subjects, and it is said that a 
change in our system would endanger that equality of 
treatment. AVhy ? What are the facts of the position ? 
The Indian Government is the British Government, and 
depends on a majority in the House of Commons. If 
Tariff Reform be adopted the position will remain unchanged, 
and certainly the last thing which we should propose to do 
would be to alter our position on the Indian market. But 
that, of course, is not enough. We have power over India, 
but no one recognises more fully than I do that we must use 
that power justly from the point of view of the Indian 
people. And our opponents say to us, ' We have a moral 
right to put an excise on cotton made in India, whether the 
Indians like it or not, because we really in our hearts believe 
that it is good for them and it is good for us.' Well, when 
we are in office we shall believe quite as firmly that pre- 
ference is good for India and is good for us." 

Mr. Bonar Law put his views even more bluntly in an 
earlier speech at Blackburn and they have never been 
repudiated by the Tariff Reform party. Their net effect is 
that Tariff Reformers mean to maintain Free Trade in 
cotton in the Indian market for the benefit of Lancashire, 
and that they will force India, in addition, to accept such 
system of Preference as they choose to propound. Until 
such arguments as those advanced by Mr. Bonar Law are 

352 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

officially disclaimed by the Tariff Reform party, it is useless 
to talk to India of Imperial Preference. 

The excise duties have done more than any other ad- 
ministrative act of the British in India in modern times to 
impair the moral basis upon which the British control is 
supposed to rest. There is no subject upon which British 
politicians of all classes have been less candid. It is said 
that the duties are not very heavy. The reply is that if 
they are not heavy the trade of Lancashire stands in no 
need of the assistance they afford. It is said that the 
Indian Exchequer cannot afford to lose the sum it receives 
from the excise duties. The reply is that in the year 1909- 
10 the duties yielded £273,000, and the Government which, 
almost without taking thought, has just deprived India of 
millions of opium revenue, cannot shelter itself behind such 
a plea. I^ord Morley was instrumental in enlarging the 
liberties of the Indian people ; he neutralised his own good 
work when he sent Mr. Clark to the Department of Com- 
merce and Industry to defend the excise duties in defiance 
of the very Council he re-created. Mr. Montagu said in the 
House of Commons on July 26, 1911 : 

" You must . . . remember the position of the British 
official in India. You cannot allow him to be crushed 
beneath a responsibility to Indian opinion, now becoming 
articulate and organised ; to be crushed between the new 
responsibility you have superimposed to an undiminished 
responsibility to British public opinion. Let the Indian 
official work out his position in the new order of things, 
where justification by works and in council must take the 
place of justification by reputation." 

How is the British official to justify himself when con- 
fronted with an almost unanimous demand for the abolition 
of the excise duties, a demand with which he is in sympathy, 
but cannot support by reason of the orders of the Secretary 
of State ? Had the official members of the Imperial 

358 z 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Council been able to vote according to conviction, Mr. 
Dadabhoy's motion on March 9, 1911, for the abohtion of 
the excise duties, would have been carried by an over- 
v^^helming majority, official and non-official. 

I do not believe that the abolition of the excise duties is 
essential to the success of the Indian cotton industry. There 
has been great growth in the industry despite the duties. 
The abolition would assist more rapid growth ; that is all. 
It would not, I think, materially affect the Lancashire trade 
with India. If that trade is sound, it needs no small 
artificial protection ; if it is not on a sound economic basis, 
protection in India of this character will not save it from 
ultimate decay. 

The issue is vital, not because the duties hamper the 
Indian mills very greatly, or afford much protection to 
Lancashire. It is made vital by the causes which led to 
their imposition, and by the intense and growing indignation 
thereby created in India. This trivial impost is helping to 
alienate some of the best and strongest supporters of British 
rule. More than a handful of mill-owners is concerned. 
Investments in Indian mills are very widely held. The 
holders of mill shares range from large numbers of com- 
paratively poor people to some of the most powerful of 
Indian princes. All unite in detestation of a levy which 
they regard as unjust ; all are led by its continuance to 
doubt the honesty of British motives. The Indian peoples 
may desire " boons " on special occasions, but they seek 
justice first, and they hold that by this admitted response to a 
Lancashire agitation they have been denied simple justice. 

If Tariff Reformers did but realise it, they have before 
them an unusual opportunity. The people of India should 
be able to look to the Tariff Reform party for the removal 
of the duties. They are taunted with indiffiiTence to Imperial 
Preference. How can they be expected to take interest in a 
policy of Preference when confronted with declarations such 
as I have quoted, and with daily evidence of unjust treatment 

354 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

before them ? The case should be stated fairly to Lancashire. 
Its enormous exports to India must rest on very insecure 
foundations if it cannot face with equanimity the release of 
£273,000 a year in competition against it. The excise duties 
have served very little purpose either way, except to arouse 
grave resentment among important sections of the Indian 
peoples. Their abolition is an imperative prelude to any 
further discussion of the question of Imperial Preference in 
regard to India. 

Of Lord Curzon's financial policy I propose to say very 
little. Its chief interest really lies in the fact that, as he 
constantly acknowledged, he reaped where others had sown. 
He arrived in India at the beginning of a period of financial 
prosperity, which continued without interruption until his 
departure. Surpluses were his unfailing experience. The 
secret of his record of achievement was, to some extent, that 
when he framed a programme, he had the money to carry it 
out. His predecessors dreamed of reforms, but had no funds 
to spare, for they governed India during a period of recurring 
deficits. That is why it is impossible to compare Lord 
Curzon's Administration with that of Lord Lansdowne. It 
may be said with truth, however — he often said so himself — 
that Lord Curzon owed much of his success to Lord 
Lansdowne's work. Lord Lansdowne and Sir David Barbour 
in 1893 closed the Indian Mints to the free coinage of silver, 
with the object of ultimately introducing a gold standard. 
For a time the measure produced little perceptible result, and 
in 1895 the value of the rupee had fallen to Is. Id. Thence- 
forward its value steadily appreciated, and when Lord Curzon 
began his Viceroyalty it had reached a stable value of Is. 4id, 
In September 1899, the late Sir Clinton Dawkins had become 
Finance Minister for a period which was all too brief, and he 
then introduced the Indian Coinage and Paper Currency Act, 
which was immediately passed. The Act made the sovereign 
legal tender in India at the rate of Rs 15 to one sovereign, 
thus giving a gold standard, and securing practical fixity of 

355 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

exchange. The work was completed by Sir Edward Law, 
who established the Gold Reserve Fund, derived from the 
profits on the coinage of silver. The object of the Fund was 
to furnish a permanent guarantee of fixity of exchange. It 
has now reached a sum of more than £15,000,000, but its 
administration is regarded with dissatisfaction by the Indian 
banking and commercial communities. The Fund is 
invested and held in London, and the contention is that 
further accumulations should be held in India. 

Though these great financial reforms are perforce men- 
tioned in a few sentences, they are the essence of the subject 
of this book. Without the gold standard Lord Curzon 
might still have been a great Viceroy, but his whole 
Administration would have been different in character, and 
far less constructive. The gold standard finally terminated 
those fluctuations in exchange which had paralysed other 
Viceroys and checked the development of Indian prosperity. 
All that was done for police reform, irrigation development, 
education, innumerable administrative improvements, the 
creation of many new appointments, all those branches of 
activity which required money, found support in the gold 
standard and its results. Without its adoption, Lord 
Kitchener might have gone to India in vain. It rendered 
possible the more rapid building of railways, and gave an 
enormous stimulus to commercial development. Lord 
Lansdowne inaugurated the policy ; Lord Elgin had to sit 
and watch its growth through years of doubt and fear; 
Lord Curzon arrived just in time to pass the measures 
which marked its completion, and to reap the full reward. 
No Viceroy ever sailed for India beneath a happier star. 

In his final Budget speech Lord Curzon claimed that 
"the total sum, part of it non-recurring, but the greater 
part of it to be continued year by year, that has been given 
back in my time to the people of India in the form of relief 
of taxation and other benefactions, amounts to thirteen 
millions sterling." The sum included remissions of land 

356 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

revenue after famine, and increased grants for education and 
local administrative purposes. He raised the limit of 
exemption from income tax ; formerly the tax was levied 
on incomes from £33 a year upwards, but this was changed 
to £66 a year. The limit may still seem low, but it has to 
be remembered that the average income is far lower than in 
England. The change released from liability 60 per cent, 
of income-tax payers. The salt tax was practically halved 
by Lord Curzon and now represents an annual payment of 
about 2|^d. per head of the population. Many people think 
it should be abolished altogether, but the official reason for 
its retention in a limited form is that it serves as a con- 
venient form of taxation in the event of a great war. These 
remissions of taxation were the first of any magnitude 
which had been given for two decades. 

An important reform was the reconstruction of the 
financial arrangements between the Imperial and Provincial 
Governments. Each province received a share of the Imperial 
revenues, in reality calculated in proportion to the revenues it 
collected and administered. The amount assigned was sub- 
jected to revision every five years. The system worked 
badly. On the one hand, the provinces were encouraged to 
spend extravagantly in order that their allotment might not 
be reduced ; on the other, they were tempted to be over- 
rigid in the collection of land revenue, because the basis of 
their claim rested partly on the amount of their collections. 
It is probable that to this cause was due the harshness of 
the revenue collection in parts of the Bombay Presidency, 
to which allusion was made in a previous chapter. The 
Bombay Government believed, with some reason, that the 
Government of India were inclined to treat them with scant 
consideration of their needs. A further objection to the 
quinquennial settlement was that it produced periodical and 
unseemly wrangles between Simla and the provinces. Lord 
Curzon abolished the quinquennial system, and placed the 
arrangements with the provinces on a permanent basis, 

357 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

while leaving sufficient room for flexibility. Lord Hardinge, 
on the advice of Sir Fleetwood Wilson, the present Finance 
Minister, now has under consideration a new development 
of the new system on an even more permanent basis. It 
will be accompanied by a relief of the provinces from a close 
scrutiny of their budgets, and is one of the results of the 
Decentralisation Commission appointed by Lord Morley. 
These changes are all sound in principle, and represent a 
great advance in the methods of Indian administration, which 
is not less valuable because it is not very visible to the public. 
Lord Curzon's interest in local self-government, though 
manifested in many minor ways, found its chief expression 
in the attention he paid to the affairs of the City of Calcutta. 
Lord Elgin had taken in hand the question of the defects 
of the Calcutta Municipality, which had been brought to 
his notice by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, then Lieutenant- 
Governor of Bengal. A Bill was already under considera- 
tion in 1899, and was passed with certain alterations, the 
chief of which was a reduction of the number of elected 
representatives. It was hotly opposed by the Indian com- 
munities of Calcutta, and twenty-eight members of the Cor- 
poration resigned as a protest. Its effect was to revolutionise 
the municipal administration of Calcutta. Though many 
improvements have followed the change, I do not think the 
most friendly observer would be willing to deny that the 
municipal control of Calcutta still leaves room for further 
progress. Lord Curzon took such intense interest in the 
improvement and development of Calcutta that the Cities of 
Madras and Bombay grew jealous of his official benefactions. 
He said at a banquet in 1903 that he almost felt as if when 
he laid down the post of Viceroy he should like to become 
the Chairman of the Calcutta Corporation. In later years, 
the citizens of Calcutta came to appreciate far more deeply 
the benefits he conferred upon the city : and differences of 
view in matters of larger politics have not prevented them 
from holding his work for Calcutta in grateful remembrance. 

358 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

The preservation of ancient monuments was a passion 
with the traveller who had examined with so much reverent 
care the mighty ruins of Persepolis and Angkor- Wat. I 
have twice preferred to allow the story of particular 
branches of Lord Curzon's work to be told again in his 
own words — in regard to his policy towards native states, 
and his labours for irrigation. In the domain of archajology 
he spoke with a fullness and a knowledge which I can 
admire, but am quite incapable of emulating. I therefore 
quote the following passages from the remarkable speech 
delivered by the Viceroy on the passing of the Ancient 
Monuments Act of 1904 : 

" It is given to but few to realise, except from books 
and illustrations, what the archaeological treasures of India 
are. I know of civilians who have spent a lifetime in the 
country without ever seeing Agra, and who make a pilgrim- 
age to visit it when their thirty-five years are done. A 
Governor- General's tours give him a unique chance, and 
I should have been unworthy of the task which I undertook 
at the first meeting of the Asiatic Society that I attended in 
Calcutta five years ago had I not utilised these opportunities 
to visit all the great remains, or groups of remains, with which 
this country is studded from one end to the other. As a 
pilgrim at the shrine of beauty I have visited them, but as a 
priest in the temple of duty have I charged myself with their 
reverent custody and their studious repair. Our labours may 
be said to have fallen into four main categories. First, there 
are the buildings which demanded a sustained policy of 
restoration or conservation, with most diligent attention to 
the designs of their original architects, so as to restore nothing 
that had not already existed, and to put up nothing absolutely 
new. For it is a cardinal principle that new work in restora- 
tion must be not only a reproduction of old work, but a part 
of it, only reintroduced in order to repair or to restore 
symmetry to the old. Of such a character has been our 
work at all the great centres of what is commonly known 
as the Indo-Saracenic style. We have, wherever this was 
possible, recovered and renovated the dwellings in life and 

359 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the resting-places in death of those master builders the 
Mussulman emperors and kings. 

" The Taj itself and all its surroundings are now all but 
free from the workman's hands. It is no longer approached 
through dusty wastes and a squalid bazaar. A beautiful 
park takes their place ; and the group of mosques and tombs, 
the arcaded streets and grassy courts that precede the main 
building are once more as nearly as possible what they were 
when completed by the masons of Shah Jehan. Every 
building in the garden enclosure of the Taj has been scrupu- 
lously repaired, and the discovery of old plans has enabled 
us to restore the water-channels and flower-beds of the garden 
more exactly to their original state. 

" We have done the same with the remaining buildings at 
Agra. The exquisite mausoleum of Itmad-ud-Dowlah, the 
tile-enamelled gem of Chini-ka-Roza, the succession of 
Mogul palaces in the Fort, the noble city of Akbar at 
Fatehpur Sikri, his noble tomb at Sikandra — all of these 
have been taken in hand. Slowly they have emerged from 
decay, and in some cases desolation, to their original perfec- 
tion of form and detail ; the old gardens have been restored, 
the old water-courses cleared out, the old balustrades reno- 
vated, the chiselled bas-reliefs repaired, and the inlaid agate, 
jasper, and cornelian replaced. The skilled workmen of 
Agra have lent themselves to the enterprise with as much 
zeal and taste as their forerunners three hundred years ago. 
I have had there the assistance of two large-minded and 
cultured Lieutenant-Governors in the persons of Sir Antony 
MacDonnell and Sir James La Touche. Since I came to 
India we have spent upon repairs at Agra alone a sum of 
between £40,000 and £50,000. Every rupee has been an 
offering of reverence to the past and a gift of recovered 
beauty to the future ; and I do not believe that there is a 
taxpayer in this country who will grudge one anna of the 
outlay. It will take some three or four years more to com- 
plete the task, and then Agra will be given back to the 
world, a pearl of great price. 

" At Delhi and Lahore we have attempted, or are 
attempting, the same. The Emperor Jehangir no longer 
lies in a neglected tomb at Shahdera ; his grandfather, 

360 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

Humayun, is once again honoured at Delhi. The military 
authorities have agreed to evacuate all the principal Mogul 
buildings in the Delhi Fort, and the gardens and halls of 
the Emperors will soon recall their former selves. I might 
take you down to Rajputana and show you the restored 
bund along the Ana Sagar Lake. There a deserted stone 
embankment survived, but the marble pavilions on it had 
tumbled down, or been converted into modern residences. 
Now they stand up again in their peerless simplicity, and 
are reflected in the waters below. 1 might bring you much 
nearer home to Gaur and Pandua in this Province of Bengal, 
in the restoration of which I received the enthusiastic 
co-operation of the late Sir John Woodburn. A hundred 
and twenty years ago the tombs of the Afghan kings at 
Gaur were within an ace of being despoiled to provide 
paving-stones for St. John's Church in Calcutta. Only a 
few years back these wonderful remains were smothered in 
jungle from which they literally had to be cut free. If the 
public were fully aware of what has been done, Malda, near 
to which they are situated, would be an object of constant 
excursion from this place. We have similarly restored the 
Hindu temples of Bhubaneshwar near Cuttack, and the 
palace and temples on the rock-fortress of Rhotasgarh. 

"At the other end of India I might conduct you to the 
stupendous ruins of the great Hindu capital of Vijayanagar, 
one of the most astonishing monuments to perished great- 
ness ; or to Bijapur, where an equally vanished Mahomedan 
dynasty left memorials scarcely less enduring. If I had 
more time to-day, I might ask you to accept my guidance 
to the delicate marble traceries of the Jain temples on 
Mount Abu, or the more stately proportions of the mosques 
at Jaunpur— both of which we are saving from the neglect 
that was already bringing portions of them to the ground ; 
or I might take you across the Bay of Bengal to Burma, and 
show you King JNIindon's Fort and Palace at Mandalay 
with their timbered halls and paviHons, which we are 
carefully preserving as a sample of the ceremonial and 
domestic architecture of the Burmese kings. 

" A second aspect of our work has been the recovery of 
buildings from profane or sacrilegious uses, and their restitu- 

361 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

tion either to the faith of their founders, or at least to safe 
custody as protected monuments. Here we have a good 
record. The exquisite little mosque of Sidi Sayid at 
Ahmedabad with the famous windows of pierced sandstone, 
which I found used as a tehsildar's cutcherry when first I 
went there, is once more cleared and intact. The Moti Musjid 
in the Palace at Lahore, into which I gained entrance with 
difficulty because the treasury was kept there in chests beneath 
the floor, and which was surrounded with a brick wall and 
iron gates, and guarded by sentries, is once more free. The 
Choti Khwabgah in the Fort is no longer a church ; the 
Dewan-i-Am is no longer a barrack ; the lovely tiled Dai 
Anga Mosque near the Lahore Railway Station has ceased 
to be the office of a traffic superintendent of the North- 
western Railway, and has been restored to the Mahomedan 
community. At Bijapur I succeeded in expelling a Dak 
Bungalow from one mosque, the relics of a British Post 
Office from another. The mosque in the celebrated Fort at 
Vellore in Madras is no longer tenanted by a police instructor. 
The superb mantapam or Hindu temple in the same Fort is 
now scrupulously cared for. A hundred years ago the East 
India Company presented it to George IV. when Prince 
Regent, for erection in the grounds of the Pavilion at 
Brighton, and only failed to carry out their design because 
the ship which had been chartered for the purpose very 
happily went to the bottom. Next it was used as an arsenal, 
and finally commissariat bullocks were tethered to its pillars. 
At Lucknow I recovered a mosque which had been used for 
years as a dispensary. At Ahmedabad I have already men- 
tioned that the marble baradari on the bund is no longer the 
dining-room of the Commissioner's house. At Mandalay 
the Church and the Club are under notice of removal from 
the gilded throne-rooms of the Burmese sovereigns. 

" In this policy, which I have so far described in relation 
to monuments in British territory, I have received the 
most cordial of support from the Indian princes in their 
own states. The Nizam of Hyderabad was willing to do all 
that I asked him — I only wish that it had been a quarter 
of a century earlier — for the unique caves of Ajunta and 
Ellora. He undertook the cataloguing and conservation of 

362 



FISCAL AND MISCELLANEOUS 

a most interesting collection of old china, copper ware, and 
carpets that had been lying neglected for centuries at Aurung- 
abad in the tomb of the wife of the Emperor Aurungzeb. 
The Maharana of Udaipur has willingly undertaken the 
restoration of the exquisite Towers of Fame and Victory on 
the hill fort of Chitor, one of which could hardly have sur- 
vived for many more years. The Maharaja Scindia threw 
himself with characteristic zeal into similar works in his 
magnificent fortress at Gwalior. The Begum of Bhopal did 
all that was required at the Sanchi Tope. Finally, there 
stands in the remote State of Dhar the huge rock-fortress 
of Mandu, certainly one of the most amazing natural spec- 
tacles in the world. Rising to a height of 1500 feet above 
the Nerbudda plain, it carries upon its summit, which is 
thirty miles round, a splendid group of deserted Mahomedan 
fortifications, palaces, and tombs. These we are assisting the 
state, which is not rich enough to assume the entire responsi- 
bility itself, to place in order. They were fast perishing, 
victims to the ravages of the jungle, and to unchallenged 
decay. [The Mandu restorations are now complete.] 

*' There is yet another aspect of the work of conservation 
to which I hope that the Bill that we are about to pass will 
lend a helping hand. This is the custody in collections or 
museums of rare or interesting objects that have either been 
torn from their surroundings or whose surroundings have 
disappeared. Hon. members will be familiar with the 
larger museums in the capital cities of India, where are 
collections not without value, but, as a rule, sorely mutilated, 
often unidentified and uncatalogued, and sometimes abomin- 
ably arranged. The plan has hitherto been to snatch up any 
sculptured fragment in a province or presidency and send it 
off to the provincial museum. This seemed to me, when I 
looked into it, to 'be all wrong. Objects of archseological 
interest can best' be studied in relation and in close 
proximity to the group and style of buildings to which they 
belong, presuming that these are of a character and in a 
locality that will attract visitors. Otherwise if transferred 
elsewhere, they lose focus, and are apt to become meaning- 
less. Accordingly we have started the plan of a number of 
local museums in places of the nature that I have described. 

363 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

1 may instance Malda in Bengal, Pagan in Burma, the Taj 
at Agra, Bijapur in Bombay, and Peshawar as locahties 
where these institutions are being called into being, and I 
hope that in future any local fragments that may be dis- 
covered in the neighbourhood of such places, instead of 
being stolen, packed off, or destroyed, will find their way 
into these minor collections. Of course the larger provincial 
museums will continue to attract all classes of objects that 
do not easily find a local habitation. 

" These remarks will, I hope, give to hon. members an 
idea of the scientific and steadfast policy upon which the 
Government have embarked in respect of archaeology, and 
which they are invited to assist by passing this Bill to-day. 

"By rendering this assistance all will join in paying the 
debt which each of us owes to the poets, the artists, and the 
creators of the past. What they originated we can but 
restore ; what they imagined we can but rescue from ruin. 
But the task, though humble, is worthy, and the duty, 
though late, is incumbent. . . . All know that there is 
beauty in India in abundance. I like to think that there is 
reverence also, and that amid our struggles over the present 
we can join hands in pious respect for the past. I like to 
think, too, that this spirit will survive, and that the efforts 
of which I have been speaking will not slacken in the hands 
of our successors, until India can boast that her memorials 
are as tenderly prized as they are precious, and as carefully 
guarded as they are already, and will in the future be even 
more, widely known." 

In the white beauty of the Victoria Memorial Hall, now 
slowly rising on the Calcutta maidan. Lord Curzon, through 
the munificence of princes and people, will presently have 
added to the architectural treasures of India a structure not 
unworthy to be compared with the historic buildings of the 
past. It is deplorable to have to add that, regardless of the 
work of their predecessors, oblivious of the splendid example 
of Egypt, and in pursuance of a Philistine policy, the 
Government of India are now believed to be contemplating 
the abolition of the post of Director-General of Archaeology. 

364 



XI 
THE TWO BENGALS 

There are whole regions of India where none but the most 
adventurous of visitors ever penetrate. Though tourists pass 
in droves through Rajputana, they leave, for instance, the 
fascinating peninsula of Kathiawar unregarded : yet Kathia- 
war has unique attractions of its own. It is a medley of 
native states, great and small, ranging from the large terri- 
tories of Maharajahs down to the little fief of a square mile 
or two held by some feudal noble whose ancestors fought 
their way to semi-independence. It contains many varieties 
of territorial tenure, and within its borders the complex 
system of native state administration can be studied in 
miniature. In one corner sits the Jam of Jamnagar, trying 
to forget the glories of English cricket-fields in the contem- 
plation of the florid attractions of three separate palaces. 
In another, the Maharajah of Bhavnagar, also a representa- 
tive of modern traditions, is resolutely trying to develop a 
port upon the most approved principles. Far to the south, 
in a capital embowered in trees, lived until recently the old 
Nawab of Junagadh, a Mussulman chieftain of a type now 
passing away, alternately building colleges and schools out 
of deference to the new spirit, spending long hours dreaming 
of the wider lands held by his forbears, but mostly thinking 
with vain regret of his happier existence as an obscure 
devotee, before he was called upon to take up affairs of 
state. Every type of Indian ruler can be seen in that small 
peninsula ; and in their midst dwells, in a tiny reservation 

365 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of his own, a quiet diplomatist, " the Agent to the Governor," 
who has to soothe quarrels and adjust differences and keep 
a watchful eye upon nearly two hundred chiefs — and on 
occasion to stimulate the fight against famine — with no more 
formidable symbol of authority at his back than a handful 
of police. 

Kathiawar is not all bare brown plain dotted with roving 
black-buck. In the great Gir forest the stranger may still 
lie awake in his tent at night and hear the roar of lions ; he 
may climb the wondrous temple-crowned Girnar mountain, 
and gaze in a pellucid atmosphere through vast distances, 
over the little towns " smouldering and glittering in the 
plain," to the shining sea beyond ; he may stand on the 
yellow sands of Somnath, and look pensively on the last 
remnants of the great shrine which Mahmud of Ghazni 
shattered for ever; he may see the traditional haunts of 
Krishna, the tree beneath which the pious believe he was 
standing when the Bhil's arrow struck him, and the hillock 
whereon his sacred body was burned ; he may wander within 
that grim fortress, the Uparkhot, or rest in a green glade 
before the mighty rock on which Asoka engraved his admoni- 
tory edicts ; or he may take boat at dawn at Bedi Bunder, 
and perchance find himself, just when the tropical sun shoots 
above the horizon and lights up the waste of waters, in the 
midst of a school of spouting whales, as I did once, even as 
did Alexander's Admiral on the coast of Mekran. Kathia- 
war is just one little nook in India, so remote from the busy 
world that Lord Curzon was the first Viceroy who ever 
visited it ; yet it is a nook which has an area of 23,000 
square miles. 

Many such places in India lie outside the beaten track of 
the tourist. The long line of palm-fringed lagoons on the 
Malabar coast, with their forgotten towns ; all the little 
Tenasserim ports, where even the reek of jack-fruit and 
rotten fish soon grows supportable ; the great plains of Sind, 
with their pools swarming with duck in winter ; the solid 

366 



THE TWO BENGALS 

fortresses of the Western Ghats, whicli WeUington stormed 
in the days when he was still young and unknown ; the 
hilly districts of the Central Provinces, where no one ever 
stops ; the heart of Cutch, with its white towns gleaming 
from afar, and its mirages of palms and cities and ships upon 
the sea ; or, if the traveller is interested in more practical 
things, such ports as Karachi, with its more than American 
rapidity of growth, a place that handles every year more 
wheat than is produced in the whole of Australia. I have 
not seen them all, though I have seen many ; it would take 
more than one lifetime to see the whole of India ; but I 
linger on this subject in order to throw into relief an example 
of unknown India far more remarkable than Kathiawar or 
any other part of the Indian Empire. 

Of all the territories of India, none was less known or 
less cared for until recently than the present province of 
Eastern Bengal. Assam was comparatively familiar to the 
world without ; it had its own Chief Commissioner, and the 
tea interest, at any rate, was audible enough. But Eastern 
Bengal, although its chief city, Dacca, was only 2.50 miles 
from Calcutta, was ground less trodden by Englishmen than 
the Khyber. It lay beyond wide brimming rivers. To 
reach it was a muddled business of casual trains and ferry- 
boats and uncertain steamers. In the rainy season it was 
one vast swamp. No wandering traveller sailed upon its 
waterways. The very landlords were absentees', squandering 
upon the delights of Calcutta the substance which their 
agents wrung from the peasantry. To the officials of the 
Bengal Government the province was a place of banishment, 
a land of strange waters to which troublesome or incom- 
petent juniors could be consigned. Good administration 
stopped short at the Ganges. Beyond was a place where 
millions lived and worked and fought and committed crime 
almost unheeded. This is no fancy picture ; it is a mild 
description of the luckless condition into which Eastern 
Bengal had fallen. But the province had rarely known any 

367^/ 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

other state. It was accustomed to being left alone. It had 
always been the nominal possession of some remote and 
inattentive conqueror. Even when the Moguls spread their 
Empire throughout Northern India, they were content to 
leave Eastern Bengal in the control of Viceroys. Sometimes 
the Viceroys ruled well, and under them Dacca enjoyed a 
century of prosperity. When the Mogul Empire began to 
crumble, Eastern Bengal almost disappeared from view. 
The conquering British did much for the province, although 
they killed the trade in Dacca muslins ; but after their first 
outburst of activity, they troubled themselves comparatively 
little about it. It would be easy to demonstrate that under 
British rule Eastern Bengal as a whole was far better 
administered than it had ever been before ; but it was 
equally true that until a few years ago it was unquestionably 
the most backward province of British India. 

Yet Eastern Bengal did not deserve the neglect it 
experienced alike at the hands of the administrator and the 
traveller. It is one of the most beautiful and most fruitful 
portions of the Indian Empire. Travelling up its mighty 
streams, one is voyaging in the midst of an entirely new 
India, an India almost beyond the imagination. These 
huge rivers, in places two miles wide, even in the dry 
season, have nothing in common with the bare brown plains 
of the Deccan, the placid luxuriance of Madras, or the 
burning deserts of Raj pu tana. They have a charm that 
never fades. In the faint opalescence of early dawn, when 
the great square-sailed country craft drift past in dim and 
ghostly silence, they recall memories of unforgettable hours 
upon the Nile. The vessel seems to be steaming through 
the morning mists on some illimitable lake. Even in the 
full glare of noontide the abiding beauty of the scene 
remains undiminished. The steamer traverses a flat green 
land, and swings past village after village screened by dense 
foliage. At every halting-place the crowd of passengers on 
the banks reveals a cluster of bright colours. The shallow 

368 



THE TWO BENGALS 

side creeks are full of quaint craft. The little shore-boats, 
dancing swiftly across the glittering waters, are like sampans ; 
the vessels floating slowly down the broad bosom of the 
stream are hke a fleet of junks. Immense, unwieldy flats, 
laden with jute, glide slowly by. In winter there is a keen, 
fresh, wholesome breeze ; and even to those who think they 
know India the journey is so picturesque and unfamiliar 
that it is like a voyage into the unknown. 

Eastern Bengal is a land where famine can only be 
caused by floods, and where plague has always been kept at 
bay ; a land of rice and jute plants, for it grows most of the 
jute of India. The peasantry in the deltaic districts are 
probably the richest in the world. It is a land Avhere rain 
never fails, and within its borders it contains the famous 
Cherrapunji Hills, which have the amazing average annual 
rainfall of 458 inches. If it has few railways, its w^ater- 
ways are incomparable. It is bountifully blessed by nature, 
and, given adequate administration and development, may 
become the finest of Indian provinces. Alike in its neglect 
and in its possibihties it recalls modern Egypt, but it is an 
Egypt of broad green rice-fields with half a dozen Niles. 

How did it come to pass that, apart from the diflSculties 
presented by physical separation, Eastern Bengal was so 
long allowed to remain bereft of due attention ? The chief 
reason unquestionably was that the task of the Government 
of Bengal was beyond its strength. The Lieutenant- 
Governor of Bengal had to administer, in 1903, an area of 
189,000 square miles, with a population of 78,000,000, and' 
a gross revenue of £7,500,000. No other provincial adminis- 
trator in India had so huge a charge, and it was complicated 
by the obstacles to rapid travel. A despatch written at the 
time stated that if the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal spent 
the whole of the available season of the year in touring, he 
could only succeed, during his term of office, in visiting a 
portion of his vast province. Many important places only 
received a single hurried visit during the five years which 

369 2 A 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

are the normal period of a Lieutenant-Governor's adminis- 
tration. He had further to control a capital of a million 
inhabitants, offering delicate problems which no other 
Governor or Lieutenant-Governor had to face in the same 
degree. The swollen size of Bengal had already so far been 
recognised that in 1874 Assam had been constituted a 
^ separate province. Even earlier, in 1866, the failure of the 
Bengal Government to cope with the Orissa famine had led 
Sir Stafford Northcote to suggest some reduction in the size 
of the territories controlled from Calcutta. 

The position was intensified by the fact that under 
the most advantageous circumstances the Government of 
Bengal are always less in touch with the people than any 
provincial administration in India. In other provinces, the 
district officers are brought into close and constant contact 
with the rural population by their land revenue work. 
Throughout the greater part of Bengal, the Permanent 
Settlement intervenes to prevent the growth of intimate 
relations. It is alleged against many Bengal civilians, even 
to-day, that they are far too dependent upon the much-abused 
police for their knowledge of the people in their charge. 
A further drawback to good government in Bengal is that 
the province is overweighted by the City of Calcutta, which 
absorbs the attention of the Administration even in the hot 
season, destroys its sense of balance, and leads it to regard 
the affairs of distant districts as of minor importance. 
Bombay has good reason to complain that in past years its 
Government has taken far too little interest in its welfare ; 
in Calcutta the fault has been on the other side. The capital 
has drawn all the strength out of the provincial authorities. 
Nowhere were the consequences of the defective adminis- 
tration of Bengal more visible than in the eastern districts. 
Beyond the Ganges officers were few, and the central 
authorities left them very much to themselves. The district 
of Mymensingh, for instance, with an area of 6000 square 
miles and a population of 4,000,000, was often in charge of 

' aro 



THE TWO BENGALS 

a single European officer. For purposes of comparison it 
may be mentioned that the whole Government of Bombay, 
with a Governor and staff, a large Secretariat, and a small 
army of other British officials, only deals with a population 
of 19,000,000. Under the circumstances, it is not surprising 
that Mymensingh became notorious throughout India for 
lawlessness and crime. In those portions of Eastern Bengal 
which were not under the Permanent Settlement, the land 
revenue administration was persistently neglected. In the 
permanently settled districts there was no Record of 
Rights ; the cultivators were bullied and harassed by the 
agents of the absentee zemindars, and were never able to 
feel any reasonable security of tenure of the land they tilled. 
Land disputes were incessant, and were constantly accom- 
panied by loss of life. In the Backergunge district, another 
turbulent area, there were frequent riots, of which murders 
were an almost invariable feature. Very little was spent 
upon education, or on any branch of the Administration. 
While money was poured out upon Calcutta and its 
environs. Eastern Bengal was financially starved. The 
whole province suffisred because its rulers were immersed ^ 
in the preoccupations of Calcutta. The very railways 
were constructed, not to serve the needs of these millions 
of people, but to meet the requirements of the city on the 
Hooghly. So preposterous are the present lines of com- 
munication that even now there are few places in the 
province which can be reached from Dacca without first 
travelling half-way to Calcutta. 

As to the conditions which prevailed under the old 
system of control, the testimony of Sir Andrew Eraser, the 
last Lieutenant-Governor of both Bengals, is conclusive. 
He says : 

" It had been growing increasingly difficult, until it had 
become practically impossible, to conduct efficiently the 
administration of this great Province. It was not a matter 

371 



\ 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

only of the burden of work laid on the Lieutenant-Governor, 
but rather the impossibility of efficient working of the 
various departments of the Government. No head of a 
department was able efficiently to deal with the great charge 
committed to him. The result of this was that many of the 
districts of Eastern Bengal had been practically neglected. 
There were many reasons which led the ordinary head of a 
department, when he found that he could not overtake 
efficiently his whole charge, to give to Orissa and Western 
Bengal such time as he had at his disposal ; and the districts 
of Eastern Bengal suffered most from the undue pressure of 
work." 

In no respect does the former system of control of 
Eastern Bengal deserve severer condemnation than for its 
utter failure to suppress crime. Not only was murder rife 
on land all through the southern districts, but the water- 
ways were the scene of operations of the largest system of 
organised piracy in the world. The waterways of the two 
Bengals carry, partly in steamers and partly in native craft, 
a trade estimated at an annual value of £42,000,000. This 
huge trade, employing nearly a quarter of a million men and 
boys, was practically without any efficient police protection 
at all. I cannot gather that outside the vicinity of Calcutta 
there was a single police launch, solely used, not for inspec- 
tion, but for purposes of patrol and the detection of crime, 
on navigable waterways which have a total length of 14,000 
miles in the dry season, and about 24,000 miles in the rains. 
Any one who is inclined to doubt the necessity for the 
partition of Bengal may be recommended to study the four 
solid volumes of reports on " Trade Conditions and Crime 
* on Navigable Waterways in Bengal, Assam, and the United 
Provinces in 1904-06," issued at the instance of the Bengal 
Government by Mr. P. B. Bramley in 1907. Mr. Bramley 
is one of the ablest police officers in India, and his monu- 
mental volumes must be exempted from the general criticism 
of Indian reports in an earlier chapter. His reports are 

372 



THE TWO BENGALS 

probably the most astounding record of modern crime in 
existence. Beside them the earlier narratives of land robbery 
in India written by Sleeman and Meadows Taylor seem 
pale ; yet Mr. Bramley was not writing novels, but was 
simply an unemotional compiler of cold facts. Though he 
was dealing with crime in three provinces, it is clear that 
the heart of the trouble, and the bulk of the crime, was in 
'Eastern Bengal. That the conditions he describes could 
exist in any land under the British flag seems almost 
incredible ; but the unanswerable proofs are in print. I am 
not surprised that the Bengal Government, though per- 
mitting considerable disclosure of the facts, prudently 
labelled these volumes " Not for Sale." They are not, 
however, confidential. 

Mr. Bramley showed that organised river piracy had 
existed in Bengal in greater or less degree for at least a cen- 
tury. At the period with which he dealt, it had very much 
increased, and the pirates were as desperate, as ruthless, and 
as bloodthirsty as the Cantonese pirates on the West River 
in China. A single extract quoted by Mr. Bramley, and 
typical of hundreds of pages of such evidence, must suffice : 

" In all these tracts country craft will be found travelling 
together in large parties, since single boats are always in 
danger of being attacked. The variety of crime, ranging 
from murder and dakaiti to petty pilfering, the fearless bold- 
faced way in which offences are committed, together with 
the absence of ordinary precautions in concealing stolen pro- 
perty, are all indications of the confidence of these river 
thieves, who apparently have no fear of apprehension. 
Evidence was thus obtained in the course of recent inquiries 
of the mysterious disappearance of numbers of boats with 
their entire crews, the modus opei'andi in such cases being 
to cut the boat quickly adritt from its moorings, and when 
well in mid-stream to suddenly spring on the crew, who 
are either knocked on the head at once, or thinking that 
they are close to shore, will hastily jump out and be drowned, 
as happened in a case in December last, near the borders of 

373 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Jessorc, Nadia, and Faridpur, as also in a case near Goalundo 
some years ago, when a whole family was apparently done to 
death one dark night within a short distance of the residence 
of the steamer company's officers, who actually heard the 
cries and went down to the rescue, but found nothing but an 
empty boat. There is also the case mentioned by the Teota 
Raja in which a whole family of up-country Brahmans, with 
the exception of a small boy who is still with the Raja, were 
all murdered." 

The extract is taken from a previous report dated 1903-04. 
The growth of crime was greatly stimulated by the develop- 
ment of the jute trade. The losses of insured cargoes carried 
by country boats shoAved the existence of a widespread system 
of insurance fraud, and there was wholesale pilfering of 
goods in transit. Trade and passenger boats were used by 
housebreakers and robbers as a means of transit and a cloak 
for the commission of crime. There was much smuggling 
of opium, liquor, salt, and rubber. The safety of the 
steamers and the lives of their passengers were constantly 
endangered by the removal of buoys and landmarks. The 
villagers on the banks of the rivers invariably looted all 
property from boats stranded in their neighbourhood. In 
short, said Mr. Bramley, " life and property on the rivers 
was unsafe to a degree which could not be tolerated by the 
Government of any civilised country." 

Perhaps the most unexpected revelation in all these dis- 
closures had nothing to do with river piracy at all. The 
latest edition of the Gazetteer of India proudly states that 
V " the crime of thagi has practically ceased to exist in India," 
and mentions that the Thagi Department, specially con- 
stituted to deal with it, was abolished in 1904 because the 
crime was extinct. Thagi, it may be explained, is in 
reality an Oriental version of the '* confidence trick," but with 
the usual addition of the murder of the victim. Mr. Bramley 
quotes the evidence of other officers to show that there was 
a gang of two hundred Thags in the Dacca district, whose 

374 



THE TWO BENGALS 

principal occupation was to pretend to start with pious 
Mussulmans on pilgrimages to Mecca, and then to murder 
them for the sake of their valuables. At the time he wrote 
the disappearance of over one hundred and fifty pilgrims had 
been traced in eight districts alone ; but he says that the 
inquiries had been performed in a careless and perfunctory 
manner. 

It must be repeated that though crime was prevalent 
on all the rivers, it was chiefly found in Eastern Bengal, 
partly because the bulk of the jute trade centred there. It 
was not dealt with, because the police force was far too 
weak and too imperfectly equipped, and still more because 
" duty in the river patrol boats was made a punishment for 
oflScers and men of the District Police." A larger and more . 
vital cause was the unwillingness of the Bengal Government 
to spend money on Eastern Bengal. If the province is still 
to-day the most criminal region of India, the ultimate cause 
is the gross and — in spite of their overwork — the unpardon- 
able negligence of the old Bengal Government. It is a 
significant fact that nearly all the young Anarchists who 
have been arrested in Calcutta and elsewhere come from 
Eastern Bengal, and this was notably the case with the men 
who were charged in the famous conspiracy trial at Alipur. 
The men of Eastern Bengal are bolder, more determined, 
and more persistent than their compatriots in Old Bengal ; 
and the better classes of Hindus in the province have 
qualities which are not easily discernible in the Calcutta 
babu. They approach more nearly to the spirit of the 
Mahrattas of the Deccan than any other section of the 
people on the eastern side of India. Owing to decades of 
bad administration, and often of no administration at all, the 
province became a breeding-ground for the most dangerous 
forms of crime. Had it been properly governed, had money 
been spent upon strengthening its control, we should have 
heard much less about bombs in India. The Government 
of India still show something of their old reluctance to 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

recognise the realities of the situation. Although money 
should be given to Eastern Bengal without stint and in 
brimming measure, its claims are still considered without 
sufficient regard to its grave and special needs. 

Such, then, is a glimpse of the condition of Eastern 
Bengal in the old days. I pass to the circumstances of the 
partition. The British public have frequently been invited 
to believe, by people who ought to have known better, that 
Lord Curzon, in some spirit of malignancy, or in pursuance 
of some purely imaginary spite, deliberately set himself to 
anger the Bengal Hindus by dividing up a province of 
which they formed a part. We are to conceive of him as 
weaving a subtle web for their discomfiture, and as stealthily 

, scheming to create a new Mahomedan province which could 
be pitted against the Hindus of Old Bengal, while their 
brethren in Eastern Bengal were left under the subjection 
of Islam. As I shall show, it was accidentally revealed 
, after his departure that for fourteen months he was not 
even aware that any rearrangement of boundaries was in 
active contemplation. A far more remarkable and signifi- 
cant fact was that the partition question never arose in 

"^ consequence of the condition of Eastern Bengal, but 
originated through a matter which did not' affect the 
Bengalis at all. The deplorable state of the eastern province 

> was another quite accidental revelation. Nothing shows 
more clearly the need for separation which existed than the 
fact that the maladministration of the eastern districts -^ 
apparently escaped even the discerning eye of the Viceroy. 
It was only when attention was directed to the whole 
question that the shameful neglect which Eastern Bengal 
had so long endured was brought into public notice. 

The movement which led to the partition of Bengal 
began in the most artless manner possible. When Sir 

^Andrew Eraser sat down in February 1901 to write an 
innocent letter about a linguistic question, he can never 
have dreamed that he was setting in motion a sequence of 



THE TWO BENGALS 

events which was to lead several years later to a wide- 
spread agitation in the Province of Bengal ; yet such was 
the case. Sir Andrew, who was then Chief Commissioner 
of the Central Provinces, wrote a letter about the substitu- 
tion of Hindi for Uriya as the language of the law courts of 
the district of Sambalpur, then under his control. In the 
course of his observations he appears to have casually 
suggested that, if Uriya was to be the court language of 
Sambalpur, that district had better be joined to Orissa ; and 
that this might be done either by placing Sambalpur 
under the control of the Bengal Government, or by trans- 
ferring the whole of Orissa from Bengal to the Central 
Provinces. Out of that casual suggestion the whole great 
controversy arose. For fourteen months the secretariats 
wrote about the proposal, built upon it, and gradually 
evolved fresh schemes for the rearrangement of half the 
provinces of India. The map of Hindustan was drawn 
afresh by placid members of Council, blissfully unconscious 
of the cyclone of popular wrath that was eventually to burst 
over their devoted heads ; and one day the imposing pile of 
papers came for the first time before the astonished vision 
of the Viceroy. 

What Lord Curzon thought of these ingenuous delibera- 
tions was recorded in May 1902, in a half-humorous, half- 
angry Note, which after his departure obtained in Calcutta 
a publicity for which it was never intended. He wrote : 

" It seems to me a most extraordinary thing that this 
discussion should have been going on for more than a year 
without any mention of the matter ever being made to the 
head of the Government. Had not Mr. Fraser casually 
alluded to it, when he was staying with me last summer, 
and in private correspondence, I should have had no inkling 
that the subject had ever been mooted. And yet during 
this period secretaries and deputy secretaries have been 
calmly carving about and rearranging provinces on paper, 
colouring and recolouring the map of India according to 

377 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

geographical, historical, political, or linguistic considerations 
— in the manner that appealed most to their fancy ; and 
finally on Jan. 29, 1902, Sir C. Rivaz recorded that — 

*' ' The idea of transferring Orissa from Bengal to the 
Central Provinces must be dropped ' ; and that * the idea of 
forming Orissa into a separate Chief Commissionership 
cannot be entertained.' 

" I really feel disposed to ask : Is there no such thing as 
a head of the Government, and what are secretaries for but 
to keep him acquainted v^ith the administration ? Would it 
be considered credible, outside the departments, that these 
really very important issues, affecting the constitution of 
or dismemberment of provinces, should have been under 
discussion for more than a year without the file ever being 
sent or the subject even being mentioned to the Viceroy ! 
They are all matters in which I take a great interest, in 
which I should be unfit to be the head of the Government if 
I did not take such an interest, and which I have frequently 
discussed with Lieutenant-Governors and Chief Commis- 
sioners. Meanwhile, the departments, without a word to 
me, are also discussing it among themselves. Even the 
Finance Member had an opportunity of recording his 
opinion upon the manner in which India ought to be 
parcelled out ; and, finally, at the end, a cut-and-dried 
reply is submitted to the Viceroy as though his signature 
were a sort of obligatory but perfunctory postscript to the 
entire discussion. 

" I do not suppose for one moment that this has been a 
conscious omission, or that there has been in anybody's 
mind the faintest idea of conducting the discussion except 
according to the most orthodox methods. But that is just 
where my complaint comes in. People sometimes ask what 
departmentalism is. To any such I give this case as an 
illustration. Departmentalism is not a moral delinquency. 
It is an intellectual hiatus — the complete absence of thought 
or apprehension of anything outside the purely departmental 
aspects of the matter under discussion. For fourteen months 
it never occurred to a single human being in the depart- 
ments to mention the matter, or to suggest that it should 
be mentioned. Round and round like the diurnal revolu- 

378 



THE TWO BENGALS 

tion of the earth went the file, stately, solemn, sure, and 
slow ; and now, in due season, it has completed its orbit, 
and I am invited to register the concluding stage. 

" How can I bring home to those who are responsible the 
gravity of the blunder or the absurdity of the situation ? 
Imagine the Colonial Office debating for a year the reparti- 
tion of the Australian Continent, the incorporation of 
Tasmania, or the subdivision of New South Wales — and 
never letting JNIr. Chamberlain know. Imagine a discussion 
as to the boundaries of the Orange River Colony and Natal 
without the knowledge of Lord JNIilner. Imagine a Re- 
distribution Bill in England behind the back of the Prime 
Minister. 

" And now, at the close, I am invited to give my assent 
to a document which, without the smallest previous 
reference to me, or attempt to ascertain my opinion, 
assumes my assent to the propositions which have been 
excogitated by the Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries in 
their fourteen months of travail, and commits me to the 
definite statements that 'there is no great reason why 
Sambalpur should be incorporated in Orissa,' and that * the 
objections to the removal of Orissa from Bengal appear to 
be equally cogent.' " 

The document will always be known to the present 
generation of Indian civilians as " the Round and Round 
Note." It was published by the Statesman, under circum- 
stances which were entirely honourable to that journal ; 
and few more foolish acts have ever been committed by the 
Government of India than their attempt to punish the States- 
man by withholding from it the courtesy of the usual supply 
of official notifications. Under the greatest provocation, but 
to their infinite credit, the conductors of the Statesman re- 
frained from retaliating by disclosing facts which would have 
covered the authorities with ridicule. Not many newspapers 
would have resisted the temptation. The publication uncon- 
sciously did Lord Curzon a considerable service, for it made 
clear what he had scorned to say himself, that the partition 

379 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of Bengal was quite unpremeditated, and was brought about 
as the natural result of prolonged official investigation. 

At the end of his Note Lord Curzon suggested that the 
approaching incorporation of Berar into British India might 
be used as a convenient occasion for examining boundaries 
all round ; and quite incidentally he mentioned Bengal as 
one of the obvious subjects for further inquiry. The 
reference to Bengal was contained in a dozen words. The 
discussion afterwards drifted for a time mainly towards the 
question of the future of Berar ; and the heads of depart- 
meifts again minuted at length, as is their wont. But Sir 
John Hewett drafted several other proposals, including the 
transfer of the Port of Chittagong to Assam ; and early in 
1903 Sir Andrew^^Fraser, who had meanwhile become 
-Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, followed up Sir John 
Hewett's recommendation by propounding a much larger 
scheme, which was the real genesis of the partition of 
Bengal. The main arguments advanced were that the 
administration of the districts of Dacca and Mymensingh 
was exceedingly defective, and that Eastern Bengal needed 
more immediate personal contact with the higher authorities. 
It was therefore proposed to attach these districts, as well 
as the division of Chittagong, to Assam. Lord Curzon for 
the first time recorded his general approval of this scheme 
about the middle of 1903, and the Government of India 
decided to address the Secretary of State and the local 
Governments concerned about the matter. At the end of 
the year the proposals were made public. The chief reasons 
assigned were the only legitimate reasons which could justify 
such a scheme. They were that the Bengal Government 
V needed relief from its excessive burdens ; that the outlying 
districts of the province required more efficient administra- 
tion ; and that Assam should have an outlet to the sea, which 
it would find at Chittagong. 

It soon became plain that the project submitted at the 
end of 1903 was extremely, and, as I think, rightly un- 

y 380/^ 



THE TWO BENGALS 

popular in Eastern Bengal. Its chief practical effect would 
have been to tack on the important districts of Dacca,i , 
Mymensingh, and Chittagong to the comparatively small/ 
province of Assam. Lord Curzon decided to feel the public 
pulse. He went in February 1904 on a tour in Eastern 
Bengal, consulted the local notables at all stages of his 
journey, and delivered long addresses at Chittagong, Dacca, 
and Mymensingh. The trend of public feeling was sufficiently 
manifested by the swarms of small boys in the streets 
carrying placards on which was inscribed the legend, " Do 
not turn us into Assamese." The Viceroy, whose addresses 
were all of the most conciliatory and explanatory character, 
told the people of Dacca that he had never cherished the 
intention ascribed to him by the placards, and that they 
"must be the head and heart of any . . . new organism, 
instead of the extremities." It is tolerably clear from his 
speeches during this tour — and I have no other knowledge 
on the subject — that before he had been very long in 
Eastern Bengal he realised that the scheme in the form it 
had then assumed would be unacceptable. At Dacca he 
said that many of the objectors to the scheme had themselves 
furnished the strongest reasons for a more ambitious one, 
and he spoke of a possible Lieutenant-Governor with a 
Legislative Council ; at Mymensingh he also spoke of 
possible expansion on some such lines. The Government of 
India afterwards stated that the larger scheme " emanated 
from public discussion and public opinion " rather than from 
themselves ; and there can be no doubt that this was the 
case. 

Nevertheless, when I^ord Curzon left for England in April 
the official scheme remained nominally as before, though it 
was growing almost imperceptibly into a project for a large / 
new province with a Lieutenant-Governor, and with Assam 
as an adjunc^jathgr than th ejBQsL-prominent feature. The 
discussion continued all that summer, and the project 
continued to grow, but it was not until February 2, 1905, 

381 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

after Lord Curzon's return, that the Government of India 
sent home their final proposals to the Secretary of State. 
They were sanctioned by Mr. Brodrick, with certain modi- 
fications, on June 9, and the Resolution of the Government 
of India promulgating the decision was dated July 19. 

The new province included, in addition to Assam, the 
three great Bengal divisions of Chittagong, Dacca, and 
Rajshahi, and a few minor pieces of territory. It had an 
area of 106,540 square miles, and a population of thirty-one 
millions, of whom eighteen millions were Mahomedans and 
twelve millions Hindus. The Mahomedans predominated, 
from the simple fact that they are in numerical pre- 
ponderance in Eastern Bengal. They are £o^ of alien rac e, 
but are mostly the descendants of large batches of forced 
converts made by the early Mahomedan invaders. They 
are almost invariably poor, and have fallen under the sub- 
jection of the Hindus. "ThB province was given a Legislative 
Council and a Board of Revenue, as well as a Lieutenant- 
Governor, and the capital was fixed at Dacca, with sub- 
sidiary headquarters at Chittagong. Old Bengal received 
the addition of the district of Sambalpur and certain Uriya 
states on its western frontier, and was left with 141,580 
square miles of territory, with a population of fifty-four 
millions, of whom forty -two millions were Hindus and nine 
millions were Mahomedans. A glance at the map will carry 
a stronger conviction of the wisdom of the change than 
many pages of argument. The chief amendments made by 
Mr. Brodrick were the substitution of a Board of Revenue 
for the proposed Financial Commissioner, and the christening 
of the new province as "Eastern Bengal and Assam." 
Lord Curzon had suggested the name of "The North- 
Eastern Provinces," but the Secretary of State urged that it 
was undesirable to permit the name of Assam, so widely 
associated with Indian tea, to disappear from the list of 
Indian provinces. It may be added that the name finally 
adopted represented some concession to Bengali feeling. 

382 



THE TWO BENGALS 

Both Mr. Brodrick's suggestions were good, and they were 
accepted without demur. 

In their Resolution the Government of India stated: 

" It is now more than eighteen months since the first pro- 
posals of the Government of India were officially published. 
In the interval they have been the subject of widespread 
and searching criticism at the hands of those who were 
directly or indirectly concerned. Representations from an 
immense number of public bodies or gatherings have reached 
the Government. These have in every case been attentively 
examined ; many of them have not been without effect upon 
the course adopted ; and the very last charge that could 
with justice be brought against the Government would be 
one of undue speed in arriving at a final decision." 

To this statement may be added the testimony of Sir 
Andrew Fraser, written after he had left India : 

" It was passed after the fullest consideration, after public 
and private discussion with representatives of all the in- 
terests concerned, and from no other motive than the reap 
and permanent benefit of the people of the twxi-Provinces. 
I have never known any administrative step taken after 
fuller discussion and more careful consideration." 

It is not my intention to describe in detail the factitious 
but widespread agitation which this exemplary administra- 
tive change eventually aroused. I have related without any 
reservation the genesis of a reform which in my belief was 
the most beneficent work Lord Curzon did in India, although 
he drifted intait al^ingt nnrnn-iriounly If any man is still [ 
disposed to think that the Viceroy and his advisers de- [ 
liberately and maliciously sat down and devised a devilish \ 
scheme to break Bengal in twain, and to pit Hindus against 
Mahomedans, he is insensible to facts. Nothing is clearer - 
than that it did not even occur to the first framers of the 
scheme that the " Bengali nation " would be perturbed in 

383^ 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the slightest degree by the change. Why should it have 
done ? In 1874, 3,000,000 Bengalis had been included in the 
Province of Assam, and nobody wore black or poured ashes 
on his head in consequence. The people who had most 
right to complain, if any complaint was required, were the 

-^nin e million Mahomeda iis_:whQ were left t o fare t^ pnty-fcjir 
million Hindus in_Oid_EengaL They said no word ; and 
the truth is that the partition of Bengal has not adversely 
affected the moral or material condition of a single resident in 
either of the two provinces. The people who are least dis- 
turbed, in spite of their original protestations, are the Hindus. X 
I saw in Calcutta Mr. Saroda Charan Mitter, lately a Judge 
of the High Court. "You tell me," he said, "that the 
high-caste Hindus still dominate the position in Eastern 
Bengal. I tell you," in rising tones, " that the high-caste 
Hindus will dominate Eastern Bengal fifty years hence, aye, 
a century hence ! " A little talk with Mr. Mitter would 
teach the ingenuous stranger a great deal about India. 

J There were several causes which led to the organisation 
of the agitation against the partition. The first and most 
immediate was, as Sir Andrew Eraser has pointed out, that it 
seemed likely to strike at two ^ vested intere sts. One was the 

/ Calcutta Bar. The Bar saw that the creation of a new pro- 
vince must inevitably lead in course of time to the creation of 
a separate High Court, as assuredly it will ; for the Calcutta 
High Court is more choked wuth work than was the Old 
Bengal Government. All the weight and the wealth of the 
great horde of Calcutta lawyers and their underlings was 
thrown into the fight against the scheme. The other was 

^ the Calcutta natiiifLJieiEspapers. They feared that the re- 
generation of Dacca would bring about the foundation of 
fresh newspapers at the capital of the new province, and that 
the people of Eastern Bengal would then turn to Dacca for 
their news rather than to Calcutta. Hence, to some extent, 
their inflammatory articles. 

Behind the influence of the Bar and the newspapers lay 

384"/ 



THE TWO BENGALS 

all the vindictive animosity which had been aroused against 
Lord Curzon among educated Bengalis by the Universities 
Act. The wirepullers had been searching for a pretext to 
attack him, and they found it in the partition. Then there 
was the undoubted growth of a certain unity of sentiment 
among Bengali Hindus, upon which I have no intention 
of casting ridicule. The Bengalis have many admirable 
qualities ; they constitute a substantial proportion of the 
people of India ; they are excitable and easily led ; but they 
are as God made them, and we shall not make the task of 
administration easier by treating them with a contempt they 
do not deserve. We have all been a little too inclined to 
reserve our praises exclusively for the men of the north. 
BengaH sentiment, then, was a considerable factor, not to be 
despised ; but it should not have been allowed, and was 
not allowed, to block a reform which leaves the Bengalis as 
united as they are ever likely to be. The "feehngs of 
solidarity" which can be shattered by a parochial scheme of 
rearrangement must be singularly feeble. The "Bengali 
nation " argument was, however, never worth considering ;, 
the Proyince of Bengal, as we have knownitajvas entirely 
the creation of the British f the very language in which 
literary Bengalis ~ciDthe^;he^r thoughts was created under 
the stimulus of British influence, and modern Bengali prose 
is scarcely forty years old. Then the fact that Mahomedans 
outnumbered the Hindus in the new province gave infinite 
offence ; but there was no community in India more in need ' 
of administrative help than the Mahomedans of Eastern 
Bengal. Already they have derived great benefit from the 
partition, of which they always heartily approved. 

There remains Mr. Surendra Nath Banerjee, the osten- 
sible leader of the more public movement against partition, 
an emotional orator who was swept off his feet by the storm 
he raised but was unable to quell. I think this episode in a 
varied career is now best ignored. It cannot be said that 
Mr. Banerjee's influence has always been for good ; no man 

385 ^ 2b 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

has done more to turn the thoughts of immature students 
towards poUtical affairs ; but he has been a great power in 
Bengal, and I do not beUeve that his frequent agitations 
have ever been directed against the fundamental basis of 
British rule. While I was in the Punjab in 1909, long 
after Bengal had grown somewhat bored with demon- 
strations varied by a little quiet rioting, I received a telegram 
from the committee of the Imperial Press Conference, of 
which I was a member, asking me to submit the name of 
a representative Indian journalist who might be invited to 
attend the Conference on behalf of the native Press of India. 
At once, with his consent, I telegraphed the name of Mr. 
\ Surendra Nath Banerjee, because I considered him to be the 
most suitable man to represent India at that great gathering ; 
and it chanced that we travelled home together. The 
partition is to Mr. Banerjee, as I have told him more than 
once, very much what King Charles's head was to Mr. Dick ; 
but I still hope to see him presiding at a meeting to cele- 
brate the anniversary of the birth of a new prosperity for 
Eastern Bengal. No one condemned his behaviour during 
the troubled period of a few years ago more severely or 
more frequently than I did ; but the time has come to forget 
a series of ebullitions which, though mischievous and even 
grave while they lasted, have now ceased. Of the boycott, of 
demonstrations in Beadon Square, of strikes and bonfires and 
the excesses of students and inflammatory harangues, I shall 
say no word. Ten years hence both Bengals will be proud of 
the new province which had such a stormy infancy. 

By far the most serious and potent influences which 
fomented and kept alive the agitation against the partition 
of Bengal came from England. They began with a tele- 
gram from M r. Brodric k to Lord Curzon on August 16, 
1905, upon his resignation, which opened thus : 

" I have learned your decision to resign with very deep 
regret. Throughout your Administration, since your 

386 



THE TWO BENGALS 

appointment as Governor-General in 1898, my colleagues 
and I have endeavoured to give you constant support in the 
many measures of administrative reform which you have 
initiated, including the partition of Bengal, upon which we 
recently adopted your proposals." 

I have written some hard things about that telegram ; 
but they were written with a very present consciousness of 
the effect it had upon India. It is impossible to believe 
that any Minister of the Crown would deliberately write a 
telegram, and afterwards permit its publication, with the 
shghtest comprehension that it would have an incendiary 7 
influence on a great province of India ; and it is further due 
to Mr. Brodrick to say that, as he himself pointed out in the 
House of Lords on June 30, 1908, the telegram was only 
included in the published correspondence at Lord Curzon's 
own request, and after his approval had been specifically 
sought. I think that single fact entitles Mr. Brodrick to 
complete exoneration on that particular point. His fault 
was that he wrote things, and telegraphed things, apparently 
without realising how his words would reve£"berate through- 
out a great Empire ; but clearly he was not to blame for the 
trumpeting abroad of a sentence which nevertheless gave 
rise to the gravest misconception. In India we knew 
nothing of the circumstances which led to the publication 
of the message ; we only saw the results, and they were 
unmistakable. The telegram was at once interpreted in 
Bengal — where the people are always over-ready to read 
more into words than is intended — as a specifi^ and public 
indication that the Home Government were not at one with 
Lord Curzon about the partition. The leaders of the agita- 
tion concluded that if they only made disturbance enough 
they could get the decision reversed ; and so Bengal was '' 
fanned into flame. Mr. Brodrick evidently wrote in all inno- 
cence ; I have never heard any suggestion that Mr. Balfour's 
Ministry was not in full accord with the Government 

387 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of India about the partition ; but that one telegram did 
more to prolong riot and disorder in Bengal than a hundred 
incitements from the Bengali leaders. 

The next factor was a statement supposed to have been 
made by the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman after he 
became Prime Minister. I do not know the truth about it, 
but he was alleged to have said something to an importunate 
Indian interlocutor, which was immediately magnified, upon 
transmission to India, into an undertaking to reopen the 
whole issue. It was probably nothing more than one of 
those amiable commonplaces with which Ministers are wont 
to evade troublesome visitors ; but its effect was immediate 
and serious. 

It is not easy to dismiss so lightly Lord Morley's occa- 
sional statements on the subject while he was Secretary of 
State. It is true that he took an early opportunity of 
>- announcing that the partition was a " settled fact," and from 
that attitude he never really veered a hand's-breadth ; but 
there was always some little reservation, some slight 
hesitancy, some implication of doubt, which served to raise 
false hopes. Lord Morley's demeanour towards the partition 
was rather inexplicable ; but however that may be, the one 
thing to be remembered is that in practice he solidly upheld 
the reform. 

I dwell upon these incidents in England of set purpose. 
Had a single member of the new Ministry got up in 
Parliament, and made a resolute, trenchant, and unequivocal 
statement that the partition was unalterable, and would be 
upheld at all costs, the agitation in Bengal would have died 
away within a month. Educated Bengalis can see as far as 
most men. They do not waste time ramming their heads 
against a brick wall. 

With the broad effect of the partition in contributing to 
produce unrest in India I shall deal in a later chapter. 
Meanwhile one other point requires passing mention. It is 
sometimes suggested that it might be expedient to place 

388 



THE TWO BENGALS 

each of the two Bengals under a Chief Commissioner, and 
then to reunite them under a full Governor at Calcutta, a 
Governor brought from England, after the fashion of 
Bombay and Madras. I can conceive no more mischievous 
or unwise change. I believe the present system works 
admirably in the southern and western Presidencies, and 
that it would be a great mistake to reduce the status of the 
Bombay and Madras appointments. There are very special 
reasons, into which I will not enter, but quite unconnected 
with the proportion of population dealt with, why the south 
and west should retain their present method of control ; but 
so long as the Viceroy spends the greater part of the cold 
weather at Calcutta, it would be a blunder of the first 
magnitude to have a second peer on the other side of the 
maidan. A Governor with two Chief Commissioners to do 
his work would in any case find himself a ridiculous ex- 
crescence ; the example of Sind affords no parallel ; there are 
technical difficulties, for the Bengal Secretariat could not be 
moved, and we should see the spectacle of a Viceroy, a 
Governor, and a Chief Commissioner all pervading Calcutta 
with their retinues in winter ; and while such a change would 
serve no useful purpose, it would tend to a great duplication 
of work, and would very soon revive the very evils which 
the partition was intended to avert. 

The first Lieutenant-Governor of the new province was . 
Sir Bampfylde Fuller, who had previously been Chief Com- 
missioner of Assam. He went there towards the end of 
1905, and found himself in a position of extreme difficulty. 
He was the object of malignant attacks in the Calcutta 
Press, of obnoxious criticism in Parliament, and of gross and 
constant misrepresentation. He did a great amount of 
excellent though perhaps sometimes impetuous work in 
creating the new Administration, the value of which was 
never recognised ; and he had to do it with the bitter con- 
sciousness that he was not being supported as he should 
have been. Had an archangel been placed in charge of 

389 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Eastern Bengal at that juncture, he would have found his 
position almost unbearable ; and Sir Bampfylde Fuller 
really showed great restraint under very trying circum- 
stances. At length he became involved in difficulties with 
the Government of India. There were two schools which 
were hotbeds of sedition, and he desired to have them 
disaffiliated from the Calcutta University. The Senate of 
the University objected, whereupon he appealed to the 
Government of India ; and, on faihng to receive their help, 
he tendered his resignation, which was accepted without 
any show of hesitation. The best proof that Sir Bampfylde 
Fuller was right is that the Government of India were 
afterwards compelled to order the disaffiliation of these very 
schools. Lord Curzon said in the House of Lords that 
Sir Bampfylde Fuller " was sacrificed in the mistaken belief 
that it would pacify the agitators," and in saying so he 
expressed the general opinion, at any rate in India. 

The case of Sir Bampfylde Fuller suggests several 
reflections. The first is that it is extremely unwise on the 
part of any public officer, or of a man in any walk of life, 
to tender his resignation if he does not mean it to be 
accepted ; the second is that, as Lord Cromer pointed out, it 
is advisable for Governments to give every officer an oppor- 
tunity of reconsid ering his re signation, especially when it 
has been submitted in a moment of exasperation, and in 
times of great difficulty ; and the third, which I venture to 
point out myself, is that it is the bounden duty of Govern- 
ments, especially in a country like India, never to convey 
even the appearance of sacrificing an officer to popular 
clamour. The worst mistake about the case of Sir 
Bampfylde Fuller was that it added one more to the 
many factors which kept alive the agitation against the 
partition, an agitation which was chiefly manifested, be it 
remembered, not in Eastern Bengal at all, but in Calcutta. 

Sir Bampfylde Fuller was succeeded on August 20, 1906, 
by Sir Lancelot Hare, under whom the new province 

390 



THE TWO BENGALS 

gradually assumed tranquillity, and he in his turn has been 
followed in 1911 by Sir Charles Bayley, an energetic officer 
who has already done good work in Eastern Bengal. 

The agitation is now a thing of the past, and is not 
likely to be renewed. Even INIr. Surendra Nath Banerjee 
stated in his journal, the Bengalee, in 1910: "We indeed 
recognise the fact that the partition has come to stay, and 
we are not anxious to upset it ; but we press for its 
modification." The two statements were mutually de- 
structive, and were followed by a characteristic retractation. 
I place no interpretation upon them, but merely point them 
out as a sign of the times. In the same year Mr. Saroda 
Charan Mitter, whom I have already quoted, confessed in a 
public speech that he told the Lieutenant-Governor and 
Chief Secretary of Bengal at the time of the partition that 
he saw no harm in it. To that view he adhered, " main- 
taining that it had done much to bring the Bengalis of the 
East and West nearer together." Mr. Mitter is an ex- 
ceedingly shrewd man, and I believe his statement to be 
literally correct. An attempt by Mr. Bhupendra Nath Basu 
to raise the issue afresh in the Imperial Council in 1910 fell 
absolutely flat. The blows which discomfited him were 
delivered by two elected Indian members, Moulvie Syed 
Shams-ul-Huda, a Mahomedan from the new province, 
and Mr. Mazhar-ul-Haq from Behar. Mr. Shams-ul-Huda 
roundly declared that before the partition " no one thought 
of Eastern Bengal at all," and the revenues drawn from the 
province were largely spent in and around Calcutta, a fact 
1 have already mentioned. Mr. Mazhar-ul-Haq said he 
wished Mr. Basu had brought up the question of partition 
as a resolution, and then "the voting would have shown 
what India thought." The British public, he said, had 
heard only one side, " but the time was coming when they 
would hear the other side with no uncertain voice." If the 
Government meddled with "this beneficent measure" it 
would be committing an act of supreme folly, and would 

391 



/ 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

create unrest and discontent where none existed now. In 
1911, in the Imperial Council, Mr. Bhupendra Nath Basu 
said, with a few pardonable oratorical tears, that as they had 
" agreed to bury the hatchet " he would not refer to circum- 
stances which would "only revive painful memories." 

The agitation, in short, dwindled long ago, and has now 
entirely collapsed. It was always factitious and unreal, and 
full of misrepresentation, and nowhere was this the case more 
than in the speeches of the self-appointed " sympathisers 
with India " in the House of Commons. In his farewell 
speech in India Lord Curzon predicted that the " Bengali 
patriots " who then denounced him for giving them that 
boon would one day bless his name for it ; and I think he 
will live to see the day, for the Bengalis have far too much 
intelligence to be unwilling to own when they have been in 
the wrong. 

Meanwhile, I wish visitors to India would not stop short 
at Calcutta, but would go through the newly discovered 
land of Eastern Bengal, and see for themselves what has 
been done in the short space of six years. The province is 
no longer content to be dragged at the tail of Old Bengal. 
A new and independent provincial spirit is springing up. 
Eastern Bengal is beginning to recognise all that a separate 
existence means to it. Its civil servants, from the Lieu- 
tenant-Governor downwards, take a pride in the great work 
of regeneration which has been entrusted to them. Their 
task is enormous, and the workers are still far too few. 
They are like men who have been set to create a new colony 
out of a land of chaos, and have entered upon their labours 
with the dogged enthusiasm which distinguishes the English- 
man in India at his best. Eastern Bengal is fortunate in 
that it has found good men, who are placing the province 
on the right path. It did not receive at its inception the 
sweepings of the Bengal Secretariat. It includes within its 
cadres some of the ablest and most devoted civilians in 
India. 

392 



THE TWO BENGALS 

Dacca, the new capital, is no longer forlorn and deso- ^ 
late. The creation of the new province has revived its 
" dreams of a dead past that cannot die." Fresh gleams of 
prosperity have been shed upon a city that seemed destined 
to moulder on into oblivion^ and Dacca is likely to regain 
more than a little of its ancient greatness. Its population 
fully realise the benefits they are deriving from their altered 
position, and rejoice at the change. Trade is reviving, and 
in some quarters building sites are steadily increasing in 
value. Beyond the confines of the old city, new Dacca is 
rapidly arising. A Government House, which is neverthe- 
less rather small for the needs of a Lieutenant-Governor, is 
under construction, as are the Secretariat buildings, and the 
people now feel that their province is to be a permanent 
reality. Modest but comfortable residences have been built 
for the principal officers of the new Government. After a 
time the rich zemindars, who have hitherto maintained 
houses at Calcutta to be near the seat of government, and 
have rarely visited their neglected estates, will find it neces- 
sary to build houses in Dacca. Parliamentary powers 
recently sought by the Secretary of State will afford an 
opportunity for the creation of a High Court, which cannot 
long be delayed. That Dacca will at no distant date 
recover something of its former proud position in the land 
of great rivers seems certain. 

In every branch of the new Administration great activity 
is visible. A survey and record of rights for the entire 
settled area of the province are being prepared, and thus 
the incessant land disputes, with their frequent accompani- 
ment of murder, should be checked. Elsewhere, in those 
districts in the north-eastern portion of the province which 
are not under the Permanent Settlement, land is being 
steadily taken up, and the land revenue is increasing. The 
waste places of the province are being brought under the 
plough. The public works, so long pinched and starved, are 
receiving a proper allotment of expenditure. An energetic 

393 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

educational policy, inaugurated by Sir Bampfylde Fuller, is 
being steadily pursued. The demand for higher education 
is perhaps greater in Eastern Bengal than in any province of 
India. The Administration have dealt with every stage of 
educational reform, improved their schools and colleges, 
given many grants for primary education, and encouraged 
Mahomedan educational institutions and the cause of female 
education ; and large sums have been spent in improving 
the supervising and inspecting agency. Questions of rural 
sanitation and water-supply, issues which perhaps concern 
the welfare of the people most nearly in these malarious low- 
lying regions, are receiving urgent attention. If Eastern 
Bengal has escaped plague, its mortality from malaria is 
abnormal. The improvement of railway communications is 
under consideration, and no doubt in due course the pro- 
vincial port of Chittagong will be linked up with the 
interior. The trade of the port has more than doubled 
since the partition, but is still lamentably small. The great 
waterways of the province are to receive their share of 
attention, and it is gratifying to be able to add that the cost 
of the river police, about whose former defects I have said 
so much, is to be borne by the Government of India. The 
whole question of river crime is now being firmly grappled 
with. 

Until 1910 the new province was seriously handicapped 
by the lack of settled financial arrangements with the 
Imperial authorities, and was under the necessity of seeking 
doles. In that year a settlement, fixing an annual standard 
of expenditure, was made by the Government of India. It 
is said to be " not ungenerous," but I prefer to describe it 
as still inadequate. The attitude of the Government of 
Eastern Bengal towards the Finance Minister has always 
been far too apologetic. Mr. Percy Lyon stated in the 
Imperial Council in 1910, almost as though it were a matter 
on which to take credit, that the expenditure of the province 
was below the level of expenditure of any of the larger 

3^4 



THE TWO BENGALS 

provinces of India. If that is the case, it is"not a matter for 
pride, but for infinite regret. In the same speech Mr. Lyon 
said, in pursuance of his deprecatory hne of argument, that 
Eastern Bengal only had 10,000 civil police as against 
33,900 in the United Provinces. The facts I have already 
set forth show that there is no province in India more 
urgently in need of very large additions to its police than 
Eastern Bengal : and for some years to come its proportion 
of European police officers ought to be substantially in 
excess of the proportion in other provinces. Both the 
Government of India and the other provinces are far too 
disposed to consider the needs of Eastern Bengal upon a 
basis of equality with those of the rest of the provincial 
administrations : but a study of the situation shows that 
this point of view is wrong, for the needs of the province 
are necessarily abnormal, and must continue to be so for a 
decade or two. A few Indian members of the Imperial 
Council still cherish the delusion that the heavy expenditure 
now required is " the result of the partition," but the con- 
tention is obviously absurd. It is the result of the long 
years of neglect, during which thirty millions of people 
were left to take care of themselves while their resources 
were being drained into Old Bengal ; it is the result of the 
maladministration which turned one of the fairest provinces 
of the British Empire into a land of lawlessness and crime. 

In one respect Eastern Bengal is reasonably entitled to 
claim relief from a heavy demand on its exchequer. The 
province is still compelled to maintain a large force of 
military police upon the north-eastern frontier of India. 
The political changes of the last few years, the reappearance 
of Chinese soldiery on the Assam frontier, the revival of the 
question of Tibet in an entirely new form, make it no longer 
possible to impose this burden on a young and struggling 
Administration. The cost of the protection of the north- 
eastern frontier should be made solely an Imperial charge. 

I said in my opening chapter that I believed the partition 

395 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of Bengal to be the greatest and most beneficent of Lord 
'Curzon's labours in India. Nothing that he did brought 
him viler calumny, both in India and in England ; but he 
has not had to wait for the vindication of history. Wisdom 
is already justified of her children ; he built even better than 
he knew ; and within five years the very men who de- 
nounced him most were silenced. It is given to few con- 
structive statesmen to encounter such good fortune. 



A 
39G 



XII 

ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

I. THE REORGANISATION OF THE ARMY 

When Lord Curzon arrived in India, he found the post 
of Commander-in-Chief in the temporary possession of 
Lieutenant- General Sir C. E. Nairne, a distinguished officer 
who had previously held the highest military rank in the 
Bombay Presidency. Shortly afterwards General Sir 
AVilliam Lockhart returned from leave and took over 
the command ; but his health was failing, partly as a 
result of the prolonged strain of the Tirah cam.paign, and 
he died on IMarch 18, 1900. General Sir Power Palmer 
was then appointed provisional Commander-in-Chief, though 
it was understood almost from the outset that he would be 
replaced when circumstances permitted by General Viscount 
Kitchener of Khartum. The prolongation of the South 
African War made it necessary to give Sir Power Palmer 
the substantive appointment ; but he was never expected to 
complete the full term of office, and in November 1902 
Lord Kitchener arrived in India and became Commander- 
in-Chief. Though many useful reforms in the Army of 
India were effiscted in the earlier years of Lord Curzon's 
Viceroyalty, the chief interest of the military side of his 
Administration lies in the period subsequent to Lord 
Kitchener's arrival. From the time the command became 
vacant, Lord Curzon had repeatedly pressed for the appoint- 
ment of Lord Kitchener. It was part of his policy to seek 
the best men who could be found ; he knew that the system 

397 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of Indian defence required reconstruction, and be believed 
Lord Kitchener to be the soldier best qualified for the task. 
Lord Kitchener, on his part, was equally eager to go to 
India. He regarded the Indian command with a feeling 
akin to the enthusiasm with which Lord Curzon had entered 
upon the Viceroyalty, and he passed with alacrity from the 
dusty camp at V^ereeniging to the most coveted post a 
British general can hold. 

Critics of Lord Kitchener's work in India sometimes 
invite us to believe that he accomplished very little during 
his seven years' residence in that country, that the Indian 
Army was reasonably efficient when he arrived and little 
better when he left, and that he merely effected a series of 
imperfect rearrangements. Criticism of this description 
carries its own condemnation. When Lord Kitchener 
reached India, the administration of the army was in a stage 
of transition. The distinguished officers of an earlier day 
had effected many improvements. It was the work of Lord 
Roberts and Sir George Chesney, among others, which 
rendered possible the further reforms of Lord Kitchener ; 
but much remained to be done. The old system of separate 
Commanders-in-Chief for Bombay and Madras had been 
abolished, and the whole of the military forces had been 
unified under one head ; but the organisation and distri- 
bution were still based upon obsolete conceptions. The 
views which dominated military policy immediately after the 
Mutiny were only just being abandoned. The advantages 
conferred by the development of a great network of railways 
had not been properly utilised. It was not clear whether the 
Army of India was controlled and distributed with the 
object of preserving internal peace or of repelling attack from 
without. Stray units were scattered about the land in 
isolated cantonments, and sometimes British regiments 
were found divided up into three or four detachments, so 
that in such cases a whole battalion rarely drilled together. 
The staff organisation was defective, and was not in accord 

398 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

with the scientific requirements of modern warfare. The 
Army was able to wage war against the frontier tribes with 
distinction and success ; but it was certainly not adminis- 
tered with due regard to its ultimate responsibility, which 
must always be preparedness to resist the advance of a 
powerful and numerous European foe. Its mobilisation 
scheme was unsatisfactory, and it was only ready to place 
four divisions in the field if called upon to begin a great 
campaign. 

The supply and transport arrangements were unequal to 
the strain of field service, as had been disclosed in the 
Chitral campaign and again in Tirah. The medical organi- 
sation needed improvement, for though there was a splendid 
supply of competent surgeons, they lacked a sufficiency 
of ambulance-bearers and field medical equipment. The 
artillery had not received their new guns, and the question 
of supplying the latest pattern of small-arms to the British 
cavalry and infantry had not been satisfactorily settled. 
Much work was still necessary in order to complete the 
policy of enabling India to manufacture on the spot her own 
supplies of warlike stores. JNIany of these requirements had 
been recognised by the Indian military authorities, who had 
been deterred from satisfying them chiefly by years of 
financial stress ; but if Lord Kitchener had the good fortune 
to command more money than his predecessors, he should 
not be deprived of the credit of accomplishment. He 
placed the Army of India on a far sounder footing, he made 
it a more efficient instrument of warfare, and by the time he 
left had rectified the defects I have recited. He did great 
things in India, and did them well ; but it is desirable to 
take a balanced view of his achievements. 

There can be no doubt, I think, that the considerations 
on which Lord Kitchener's ideas of reorganisation and 
redistribution were originally based ultimately underwent 
considerable modification, and that the marked changes 
visible in Asia after his arrival affected his plans. The 

399 



INDIA UNDETl CURZON AND AFTER 

efforts that have been made to prove the contrary, and to 
show that his intentions never varied, only do him a dis- 
service. In 1902, and for some time afterwards, the 
dominating thought in the minds of those responsible for 
the defence of India was the possibility of menace from 
Russia. The Orenburg-Tashkent Railway was approaching 
completion, and seemed likely profoundly to modify the 
military situation in Central Asia. It was pushed forward 
without cessation even after Russia found herself at death- 
grips with Japan, and it enabled troops entrained at Moscow 
to alight within ten days, and without changing carriages, 
at a point only eighty miles north of Herat. That the 
Government of India were deeply exercised about the 
Tashkent Railway, and the simultaneous reports of Russian 
activity on the line of the Upper Oxus, was well known at 
the time. That Lord Kitchener shared these apprehensions 
to the full was no secret. 

In this matter there is fortunately no need to depend 
upon mere assertion. Mr. Brodrick put the situation 
in a very pointed way in a despatch dated December 2, 
1904, in which he said : " The danger of complications on 
the north-v;est frontier has been rendered greater by the 
completion of an additional strategic railway from Central 
Asia to the northern boundary of Afghanistan." On 
May 11, 1905, Mr. Balfour, then Prime IVIinister, in a 
memorable speech in the House of Commons upon Imperial 
Defence, took occasion to discuss the extent of Indian 
military resources in the event of war with Russia. He 
said he did not regard the Indian problem (of defence) as 
otherwise than grave, and he declared that Great Britain 
would not tolerate the slow absorption by Russia of Afghan- 
istan. Such a warning, uttered at such a moment, had only 
one meaning. It showed that the Imperial authorities, in 
common with the Government of India, regarded with 
anxiety the reports of Russian military activity in Central 
Asia. 

400 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

Those reports had meanwhile become extremely explicit. 
It was said that, despite the struggle in Manchuria, Russia 
had sent reinforcements to Central Asia which more than 
doubled her existing garrison ; and it was alleged that she 
had under arms beyond the Caspian a force of 200,000 men. 
1 have reason to know that the report of these Russian 
reinforcements was fully credited at Simla, and for a time in 
London also. Through my own agents, I received similar 
inteUigence, which I had then no reason to doubt. Russia 
was at that moment gravely troubled by internal disturb- 
ances, due to dissatisfaction with the conduct of the war in 
the Far East; and the explanation offered was that she 
proposed to distract public attention by creating a diversion 
in Afghanistan, which was considered by her statesmen to 
be a popular move. 

The motive ascribed to Russia was unfounded. The 
report of the reinforcements in Central Asia was largely 
untrue, though it had some foundation. In after years I 
learned from Russian sources the true explanation of the 
story about the 200,000 men. I pause to tell it for the first 
time because it throws a flood of light upon the way in 
which misunderstandings sometimes arise between two great 
nations ; and the statements here made may be accepted as 
authoritative, because they come from persons directly con- 
cerned. While Lord Kitchener and his colleagues were 
anxious about the doings of the Russians in Central Asia, 
the Russians themselves were very anxious about Lord 
Kitchener. They learned through their own sources — the 
Russian intelligence branch in India was in some respects 
pecuUarly efficient at that time — that the Commander-in- 
Chief had been riding up and down the frontier, and had 
examined every pass from the Gomal to the Pamirs. They 
read in the papers that he was designing new cantonments, 
and meant to concentrate the bulk of the Indian Army on 
the frontier. They fancied he had come to India with 
warlike intentions, and credited him — I beheve quite 

401 2c 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

erroneously — with a strong antipathy to Russia. At last 
they grew thoroughly alarmed, for it seemed to them that 
their defeats in IManchuria gave him the opportunity he 
appeared to be seeking. They were never quite convinced 
that Great Britain would try to strike at Russia in Central 
Asia, but the Japanese Alliance had made them deeply 
suspicious of British motives, and they thought it best to 
be prepared. 

That was the reason why work on the Orenburg-Tash- 
kent Railway was never stopped for a moment, although 
Russia was engaged in deadly conflict elsewhere. The 
authorities in Central Asia took a further stepl They sent 
a despatch to St. Petersburg, reviewing the supposed 
preparations of Lord Kitchener, pointing out their inability 
to resist a British advance, and urgently demanding copious 
reinforcements. The views thus expressed found complete 
credence in the Russian capital, and though more troops 
were required in Manchuria, it was decided to reinforce the 
Central Asian garrisons by large additions. Had the 
decision been carried out, the Russian forces near and beyond 
the Caspian would eventually have reached a total of 200,000 
men. The movement of troops actually commenced, and a 
small proportion of the desired reinforcements arrived in 
Central Asia ; but before the scheme could be completed 
the situation in Manchuria grew so desperate that the 
remainder of the troops designated were sent to the Far 
East. How the British Government became acquainted 
with the Russian intentions it is not discreet to inquire ; 
but judging by my own experience, what happened was 
that in passing through the subterranean channels of inter- 
national intelligence, the evidence of intention was converted 
into an allegation of completed fact. A veil had been drawn 
over Central Asia : no foreigner was allowed to travel by 
the Tashkent Railway ; it was difficult to find out what was 
going on ; and when emissaries who had become aware of an 
order declared that it had been carried into effect, there was 

402 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

no means of disproving their statements. The Russian 
Government promptly issued a denial, but hardly any one 
then believed them. One of the few exceptions was the 
late Sir Charles Dilke, who for years afterwards used to 
denounce the story in the House of Commons, though he 
did not seem to be aware that it was not entirely imaginary. 
I will only add that several such experiences have led me 
to marvel at the complete misunderstanding of each other's 
motives frequently manifested by the Great Powers ; and 
though I have little faith in the new exponents of inter- 
national peace, I believe there are few modern wars between 
civilised nations which could not and should not have been 
avoided. 

During the years 1903-4-5, therefore, the possible 
developments of Russian policy were the dominating con- 
sideration in the minds of those responsible for the defence 
of India, both at home and on the spot. The anxiety of the 
Cabinet was publicly expressed by the Prime Minister, and 
it was reflected in the earlier projects of Lord Kitchener. 
In 1907, and again in 1909, Lord Kitchener explained in 
Council that "his policy of redistribution did not con- 
template the massing of troops on the North -West Frontier, 
and that he was entirely opposed to any such policy." No 
doubt his scheme, as it took final shape, was in accordance 
with this disclaimer, but other conceptions at first held the 
field. The problem of Indian defence was materially affected 
by three successive events, all of which occurred during and 
after 1905. The first was the final defeat of Russia by 
Japan ; the second was the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese 
Alliance upon a closer basis ; and the third was the con- 
clusion of the Anglo-Russian Convention. None of these 
events made the essential requirements of Indian defence 
any less real or urgent ; but they all had this cumulative 
effect, that they made it far less necessary to have troops 
ready to fling on the instant into Afghanistan, and to that 
extent they modified the calculations of Lord Kitchener. 

403 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

It was then that the theory emerged — and an excellent 
theory it was — that the divisions were to be " echelonned 
back" from the frontier along the main strategic lines of 
railway. It had also been realised in the meantime that the 
cost of making large increases in the forces actually 
stationed on the frontier would be prohibitive. 

Before Lord Kitchener had been six months in India, he 
made a thorough examination of the frontier, such as no 
Commander-in-Chief had ever made before. His journey 
was accomplished in two sections. In the fierce heat of 
April, he started from Nushki, far to the west of the hills 
around Quetta, and inspected every pass and valley of 
importance from Baluchistan to the Khyber. In the follow- 
ing August, he started forth again and travelled from the 
Malakand to Chitral and Gilgit, and to the lonely passes 
leading to the Pamirs. It was during these expeditions 
that Lord Kitchener first examined the projected alignment 
of the Loi-Shilman Railway, to which allusion has been 
made in the chapter on frontier affairs. He has been quite 
unjustly criticised with reference to this scheme, of which 
he is commonly regarded as the author. The first surveys 
for a railway along the line of the Kabul River were carried 
out so long ago as 1890. The second preliminary surveys 
were conducted in 1902, before Lord Kitchener arrived 
in India. His share of responsibility was that he gave the 
scheme his support, and suggested certain changes, includ- 
ing a larger gauge. He further suggested, though I am not 
aware that he ever formally proposed, the creation of a large 
cantonment on the breezy heights of Torsappa, near the site 
selected for the railhead. After a year or two the Torsappa 
suggestion was dropped, and nothing more was ever heard 
of it. Lord Curzon's share in these transactions was that he 
sanctioned the second surveys, and afterwards the com- 
mencement of the line, out of deference to military opinion, 
though with considerable reluctance. I have already stated 
my view of the Loi-Shilman Railway, which is, briefly, that 

404 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

strategically it is imperative, but politically it is inexpedient. 
It is unfair to attack Lord Kitchener for supporting it. He 
saw, as all must see who have visited the locality, that it 
will be impossible to send a large force into Afghanistan 
by the Khyber route until the line is built. 

Another scheme with which Lord Kitchener's name was 
prominently associated was the proposal to establish a large 
cantonment at Mastung, south-west of Quetta, to contain a 
force variously estimated at from 6000 to 8000 men ; and 
the complement of this scheme was to be a substantial 
increase in the Quetta garrison. The Mastung scheme was 
found to be impracticable, owing to difficulties about water 
and to the enormous expenditure involved, and in due course 
it was dropped. I have never understood why so much 
pains should have been taken to explain it away, for it is a 
natural development of the necessity to be ready to move 
troops to the Helmund on the one hand, and to Seistan on 
the other. The difficulties could not have been foreseen, 
and the efforts to maintain an appearance of consistency 
seem unnecessary. Sir George Arthur, who appears to 
write with some authority, has since stated that Lord 
Kitchener left behind him a *' full scheme ... as a legacy 
to be carried out in time," and that the scheme includes the 
creation of the two great cantonments at Torsappa and 
Mastung, as well as the completion of the Loi-Shilman 
Railway. 

My purpose in mentioning these two instances is to 
show that there is good ground for believing that Lord 
Kitchener's reforms, as finally carried out, were not entirely 
in accordance with his earlier proposals. His general atti- 
tude towards the North- West Frontier question is somewhat 
difficult to define, because it was never publicly disclosed. 
It was understood, however — and officers of the Kitchener 
"school" favoured the impression — that he held the view 
that the tribal country must ultimately be conquered and 
administered right up to the political frontier. On the 

405 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

other hand, his adherence to this view was essentially- 
academic, for nothing was actually done while he commanded 
in India to develop the slightest semblance of a " forward 
policy." The small two-fold campaign against the Moh- 
mands and the Zakka Khel, conducted under his direction, 
was inevitable, and its only fault, for which he was not 
to blame, was that it was too hastily completed. He was 
fully entitled to claim, as he did on leaving, that " his voice 
had ever been for peace." He was anxious that the Amir 
of Afghanistan should make good roads in his territory, and 
that his troops should be trained by British officers. The 
desire, though it was not gratified, and though it was then 
impolitic, was strictly in pursuance of the obligations Great 
Britain has undertaken for the defence of Afghanistan. He 
was a supporter of the notion, which T hold to be grievously 
wrong, that if Russia was allowed to come down to the 
Persian Gulf she would be more vulnerable ; but he was 
steadfast in discouraging suggestions that Great Britain 
should add to her military responsibilities at the head of the 
Gulf, because he held that the Army of India might be 
unequal to the strain. Some of these views may be a fit 
subject for disagreement, for reasons which I have stated 
elsewhere ; but they were mostly held as abstract opinions, 
and not practically pursued, and those who differ need not 
visit them with heated condemnation. 

The broad feature of Lord Kitchener's reorganisation 
scheme, as finally adopted, was the introduction of the 
divisional system upon an extended scale. When this 
work was done, the Army of India could, upon mobilisa- 
tion, place in the field nine infantry divisions each consisting 
of three brigades, and eight cavalry brigades ; whereas under 
the old system only four divisions, not too well equipped, 
were immediately available. The figures have been con- 
tested, but I see no reason why Lord Kitchener's assurances 
should not be accepted. He has himself admitted that for 
the later divisions " improvised arrangements " would still " to 

406 



ARMY REFORINI AND LORD KITCHENER 

a certain extent" be necessary. The composition of the 
brigades has been altered. Formerly a division consisted 
of two brigades, and each brigade was composed of two 
British and two native battalions. There are three brigades 
in the new divisions, two being composed of native battalions 
and one of British troops. The new composition has been 
subjected to much criticism, but only warfare on a large 
scale can supply the requisite test, and meanwhile it may be 
regarded as probable that the rearrangement is advantageous. 
The whole of the Indian forces were grouped afresh into two 
great commands, the Northern Army, with its headquarters 
at Murree and its striking-point at Peshawar, and the 
Southern Army, with its headquarters at Poona and its 
striking-point at Quetta. The divisions are massed along 
the main lines of railway, and though minor detachments 
have been in many cases withdrawn, such concentrations 
as have been made have not ignored the necessity for 
the preservation of internal order. The whole of Lord 
Kitchener's reorganisation and redistribution scheme may 
be summed up in the statement that, without taking into 
account possible difficulties beyond the frontier, it enables 
India to do what she could never have done before without 
great delay. It enables her rapidly to despatch two powerful 
armies, one to the line of the Helmund and the other to the 
heights beyond Kabul ; and it still leaves her with sufficient 
troops to keep the peace within her borders. When she 
has mobilised and despatched her armies she must await 
further help from overseas. 

In a sense. Lord Kitchener's scheme made for greater 
centralisation ; but it also made for devolution, as more 
than one divisional commander has assured me. Both 
divisional and brigade commanders were given more direct 
responsibilities and larger powers, while the commanders 
of the Northern and Southern Armies became in reality 
inspecting officers of high rank. The native regiments were 
renumbered and their peace establishments brought into 

407 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

uniformity. The whole of the artillery was rearmed with 
quick-firing guns, and all the British troops received the 
new rifle. The Supply and Transport Corps was removed 
from its comparative isolation, and made an integral part of 
the organisation for warfare, and divisional and brigade 
commanders were made responsible for supply and trans- 
port expenditure. A Staff College on the Camberley 
model was started at Quetta, and its cachet is already not 
inferior to that of the home establishment. The factories 
for providing the Indian Army with munitions of war were 
brought to completion. A host of minor reforms, which it 
would be wearisome to specify, were instituted ; but I 
believe the most valuable reform to have been the improve- 
ment in the method of training troops. Every brigade 
commander trains and controls his own brigade, and is 
responsible for keeping it at a high state of efficiency ; and 
the officer who handles the brigade in peace will lead it in 
the field. The " Kitchener test," by which every battalion 
in India was subjected to severe examination under service 
conditions, was much scoffed at, and produced a considerable 
amount of grumbling, particularly in the native ranks ; but 
after it was all over I never met an officer who did not 
admit that it had been an excellent expedient, and had 
revealed such weaknesses as existed. I do not think Lord 
Kitchener was ever beloved by the Army in India, and 
probably he did not want to be ; but he had the faculty of 
producing extraordinary devotion among the officers with 
whom he was most closely in contact, and he was respected 
and feared by all. He made the Army a first-class fighting 
machine, and officers who frankly avowed unfavourable 
prejudices never failed to acknowledge that he had greatly 
increased its efficiency. When I travelled through India 
towards the close of his command I never heard a dis- 
sentient voice on this point. 

That Lord Kitchener made mistakes can scarcely be 
denied. The proposal for the creation of a limited number 

408 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

of native field batteries, to be followed by a subsequent 
expansion of the principle, was the error which obtained 
most publicity ; and it argued a lack of appreciation of an 
elementary law in the system of Indian defence. His work 
should, however, be judged not by incidental defects of 
judgment which were speedily corrected, but rather by its 
ultimate results. Whenever he went astray, the fault was 
almost invariably due to a rash precipitation in submitting 
proposals ; and therein was revealed a side of his character as 
a commander and administrator which is not generally 
recognised. In one respect Lord Kitchener's sojourn in 
India did not enhance his reputation. The economy in 
finance which marked his work in Egypt and the Soudan 
was not conspicuous in India. The financial statement 
which he made in his closing address to the Imperial 
Council left an impression which requires revision in the 
light of later experience. I say nothing of the complaint, 
frequently heard, that the Indian Army costs more than it 
used to do. That is a discovery which is common to all 
armies ; and if the Indian Army costs more, India receives 
far better value for its money. It may with more justice 
be said that Lord Kitchener produced his balance-sheet 
by leaving to his successors the task of making good 
many omissions. He was too anxious to reproduce the 
impression he made when he read at the INlansion House 
the bill for Omdurman. The Pioneer of July 7, 1911, 
remarked : " In spite of the fetish worship of Lord Kitchener, 
which is now the simple faith of the entire London Press, it 
is well known that his lordship left a good deal undone, in 
the way of equipment, for instance, which it is now the care 
of his successors to supply." Therein lies a tale which is 
capable of amplification. Lord Kitchener may be a good 
financial administrator, but he gave few proofs of it in India, 
and at times he spent very lavishly. 

Much has been said about Lord Kitchener's attitude 
towards the Native Army, but I believe the truth to be this. 

409 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

When he first took up his command, he did not form a very 
high opinion of the efficiency of the Indian regiments, and 
he is not accustomed to conceal his convictions. Again, he 
was incHned to look askance at some of the methods of the I 
Native Army, which he failed to understand, and thought 
were pampering. He judged what he saw too much by the 
standard of his old Soudanese troops. Indians are quicker 
than Europeans at discerning what is in a man's mind, and 
the " Kitchener test," which wore out the sepoy's clothes and 
boots and accoutrements, for which he then had to pay, did 
the rest. In later years Lord Kitchener saw fit to revise his 
views about the Native Army, and in the end he became its 
benefactor. He doubled the kit money of the Indian 
soldiers, so that they got their outfit free ; he enlarged the 
facilities granted to enable the men to go to their homes on 
leave without cost to themselves ; he gave a boot allowance 
to unmounted combatants, and free fodder to cavalry on the 
march ; he improved the pension rules, introduced invalid 
pensions, and made better allowances to native officers on 
transfer ; and finally, he obtained free firewood and a 
substantial increase of pay for all native ranks. The last 
concession was announced in King Edward's Proclamation 
on the completion of fifty years of Crown control in India. 
The increase of pay was a salutary boon, for it was long 
overdue, and the cost of living had risen. It helped to 
assuage any feeling of estrangement, and in the end the 
native army came to feel that Lord Kitchener had amply 
befriended them. 

I have said little of Lord Curzon in this narration of 
Lord Kitchener's work in India, and it should be understood 
that many of the Army reforms were only brought to 
completion after the close of Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty. 
Lord Kitchener's term of office was extended for two years, 
and he did not hand over charge to his successor. General 
Sir O'Moore Creagh, until September 1909. In all that he did 
to improve the efficiency of the Army during Lord Curzon's 

410 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

Administration, Lord Kitchener had the unswerving support 
and the warm approval of the Viceroy. The funds he asked 
for were furnished without stint, and he has more than once 
borne testimony to the generous sympathy and help which 
were invariably accorded to him by Lord Curzon. In 
private life they were on terms of the closest intimacy until 
the few days immediately preceding the Viceroy's final 
resignation. 

Nor would it be just, in dwelling upon the value of 
Lord Kitchener's labours, to refrain from pointing out that 
Lord Curzon himself did much to promote reform in Army 
administration, particularly before Lord Kitchener appeared 
upon the scene. His earlier Budget speeches contained 
long references to the question, and in 1901 he warmly 
defended a heavy increase in the military estimates. The 
subject engaged his close and constant attention, and during 
the four years before Lord Kitchener arrived a steady pro- 
cess of reform was inaugurated. A few facts, which seem 
to have been forgotten at the moment of Lord Kitchener's 
retirement, will serve to place the matter in proper perspec- 
tive, and may also suggest that some reapportionment of 
recognition is required. 

It will be remembered that Lord Kitchener arrived in 
India in November 1902. The whole of the Native Army 
had just been rearmed with the new rifle when he took 
over the command, and the provision of new artillery had 
been under consideration, the South African War having 
been one of the causes of the delay. The necessity of 
decentralisation had been recognised, and a scheme to that 
end had been drawn up by Sir Edwin CoUen, Military 
Member of Council. The pay of the British troops had 
been increased. A large number of British officers had been 
added to the Indian regiments, on the recommendation of 
Sir Power Palmer, though a still further increase was after- 
wards made by Lord Kitchener. A system of enumerating 
animals for transport purposes was inaugurated in 1900. 

411 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

The provision in the barracks of British troops of punkahs 
pulled by electricity had been begun at the special instance 
of the Viceroy, who had been moved to intervene owing to 
the frequent assaults on punkah coolies. Those who know 
the trials of an Indian hot weather will realise the bene- 
ficence of this innovation, which has done so much for the 
health and comfort of the troops. Lord Curzon had also 
perceived the necessity of releasing a larger proportion of 
the internal garrison for service in the field ; and at his 
request the Mobilisation Committee drew up in 1900 plans 
which anticipated and embodied the principle which after- 
wards, upon a larger and more scientific scale, formed a 
central feature of Lord Kitchener's scheme. 

Nearly the whole of the proposals for enabling India to 
be self-supplying in the matter of : munitions of Avar had 
been projected, or were partially complete, before the 
advent of Lord Kitchener. They were instituted by Lord 
Curzon and his military advisers, and formed part of his 
policy of making India less dependent upon Great Britain 
for her defence. The building of the gun-carriage factory 
at Jubbulpore began in 1901. The cordite factory at 
Wellington was commenced in 1900. The lyddite-fitting 
factory at Kirkee was opened in 1901, and the rolling-mills 
at Ishapore were projected in the same year. The rifle 
factory at Ishapore was proposed by Sir Edwin Collen in 
1900, and was almost complete when Lord Kitchener 
arrived. The scheme for the gun factory at Ishapore was 
submitted in the autumn of 1902 by Sir Edmond Elles, who 
had meanMdiile become the Military Member of Council. 
The Remount Commission was proposed by Sir Edwin 
Collen, and presented its report in 1901. Other examples 
might be cited. There was far too little attention to 
chronological accuracy in the reviews which were published 
at the close of Lord Kitchener's Indian career. 

The greatest service which Lord Curzon rendered to the 
Empire, on the military side of his Administration, has been 

412 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

unduly obscured. He sent to South Africa the force of 
over 8000 British officers and men which held Ladysmith, 
saved Natal, and stopped the tide of Boer invasion. The 
promptitude with which the force was despatched was 
largely due to his own personal intervention. At an early 
stage after hostilities had broken out he offered to send a 
further force of 10,000 native cavalry and infantry, but the 
offer was refused, because, as Mr. Balfour afterwards stated, 
it was desirable to employ only British troops. The decision 
of the Prime JMinister is now recognised to have been right, 
and Lord Curzon never questioned its expediency ; but he 
was moved to make the offer because he had received urgent 
appeals from the Indian princes and the Indian Army, and 
deemed it his duty to transmit them. At a later date it 
devolved upon him to express the thanks of the Queen- 
Empress Victoria for the loyalty thus displayed. The 
magnificent light cavalry of India would have found on the 
South African veld exactly the kind of country in which 
their prowess could best have been displayed ; but the 
reluctance to utilise its services caused no resentment in 
India, where the racial difficulty was fully appreciated. 

During the same period Lord Curzon sent to North 
China, for the operations which followed the Boxer 
rebellion, 1300 British officers and men, nearly 20,000 native 
troops, and 17,000 native followers. Part of this force 
remained in China for a long time. The ammunition 
supplies forwarded from India for these two wars included 
21,000,000 rounds of ammunition and 114,000 projectiles 
and shells, 11,000 tents, 11,000 sets of saddlery, 315,000 
helmets, 169,000 blankets, 290,000 pairs of boots, 42,000 tons 
of fodder and rations, and 940,000 garments of various 
descriptions. These articles were not required either wholly 
or mainly for the Indian forces, but were ordered for all the 
troops in the field, and the whole of them were manufactured 
in India. There were also sent 11,600 horses, 6700 mules 
and ponies, and 2700 bullocks. India further participated in 

418 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

minor campaigns in Somaliland, Jubaland, and elsewhere ; 
and the figures I have quoted give some measure of the value 
of the Indian Empire in the scheme of Imperial defence. 

One military reform introduced by Lord Curzon has a 
very immediate interest. He regulated and extended the 
principle of granting direct commissions in the Native Army 
to the sons of Indian gentlemen. The opportunities of 
military employment provided for the Imperial Cadets have 
been already explained in a previous chapter. Lord Curzon 
saw, however, the desirability of making military careers 
easier of access for those young men who, while not eligible 
by birth for admission to the Imperial Cadet Corps, are 
nevertheless members of the Indian aristocracy. The Indian 
officers of the Native Army had been hitherto chiefly pro- 
moted from the ranks, and therefore did not usually receive 
commissions until they had reached somewhat mature years. 
The number of direct commissions was comparatively few. 
In 1900 Lord Curzon decided that a fixed proportion of 
direct commissions might be granted, in the infantry at the 
rate of one to every four commissions from the ranks, and 
in the cavalry at the rate of one to three. In 1902 he began 
to grant a certain number of direct commissions to Indian 
gentlemen from selected colleges. 

It is understood that a further large extension of the 
principle of direct commissions is now in contemplation. 
Until the nature of the scheme is made public, it cannot 
very well be discussed. It may be said, however, that it 
appears to involve the consideration of two important points. 
The first is whether, if a large additional number of direct 
commissions are to be granted, the Indian officers so created 
are to have the same status, or a higher status than, officers 
promoted from the ranks. The second is whether Indian 
officers are to enjoy the same rates of pay and pension as 
British officers, in accordance with the principle adopted for 
Indian members of the Covenanted Civil Service. If a large 
number of officers drawn from a new class are admitted to 

414 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

the Native Army, such a demand will assuredly arise. To 
meet it would involve a heavy additional expenditure ; but 
no doubt these difficulties will be duly considered before the 
scheme is promulgated. 



II. THE MILITARY DEPARTMENT 

I turn with reluctance to the episode which involved 
Lord Curzon in prolonged controversy with the Home 
Government and with Lord Kitchener, and eventually left 
him with no alternative but to submit his resignation. It 
is one of those controversies which can only be fully 
described and pronounced upon when everybody concerned 
has passed away. The issues it raised have, for good or 
evil, been settled and carried into practice. The antagonisms 
it aroused between many public men have been dissipated, 
and no longer affect personal relations in public or private 
life. They are not, perhaps, forgotten, but the recollection 
has ceased to be more than a painful memory which is 
growing dim. It is no part of my purpose to revive the 
poignancy of wounds that have healed, even though the 
scars remain. The general object of this book, so far as it 
relates to Lord Curzon, its central figure, is not to reopen 
a closed dispute, but rather to direct attention to other 
phases of his work in India which that dispute has been 
allowed to overshadow. Some account of the controversy 
is, however, imperative, or the picture would be incomplete. 
In what I have to say, I shall rely almost solely on the 
facts and documents already publicly recorded. I shall deal 
with the broad outlines, and eschew the masses of detailed 
argument which have been marshalled on either side. I 
cannot profess to approach the question, for the purposes 
of this book, with an open mind, for my mind was made up 
long ago, and my convictions have remained unshaken after 
examining the issue afresh ; but I will endeavour to state it 
fairly. 

415 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

At the time that Lord Kitchener became Commander-in- 
Chief, the responsibility for the military administration of 
India was divided between two officers. The first was the 
Commander-in-Chief, who was styled *' His Excellency," 
and had precedence of the Lieutenant-Governors. He was 
the executive head of the Army, and was charged with its 
organisation and training, its mobilisation for war and its 
direction in time of war, and with promotion. His office 
was known as Army Headquarters. The second was the 
Military Member of Council, who was the head of the Mili- 
tary Department. His Department was entrusted with the 
control of the departments of supply and transport, ordnance, 
remounts, clothing, medical stores, military works, and mili- 
tary finance, and, above all, with the preparation of the 
Military Budget. The Military Member was invariably a 
soldier of high rank, but his department was regarded as 
a civil department, and he had nothing to do with discipline 
or training. The one was an executive officer, the other 
administrative. The multifarious and comprehensive duties 
of the Commander-in-Chief were believed to be more than 
sufficient to occupy his time. Mr. Brodrick quite un- 
consciously furnished the strongest possible argument in this 
respect when he pointed out in 1909 that no one else in 
the world, who is not a Sovereign, commands an Army, as 
the Commander-in-Chief in India does, of over 200,000 men. 

Both the Commander-in-Chief and the Military Member 
were members of the Viceroy's Executive Council. The 
various departments of the Administration in India are 
each in charge of a Minister. Each Minister is a member 
of the Viceroy's Council, which is practically a Cabinet. 
The Viceroy and the Members of Council are collectively 
described as the Governor- General of India in Council ; in 
other words, they form the Government of India. The 
supreme military authority in India is neither the Viceroy 
nor the Commander-in-Chief, but the Governor- General in 
Council, in whom is vested by the Crown " the superin- 

416 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

tendence, direction, and control of the whole Civil and 
Military Government of all our territories and revenues in 
India." It is most important to understand that in military 
questions in India the Government as a whole are para- 
mount, and not any single member thereof. Upon that 
principle the whole constitutional issue turned. 

The Commander-in-Chief was the first military adviser 
to the Viceroy, and had access to him at all times. The 
Military Member was a second or alternative adviser, and 
was further the constitutional representative of the Govern- 
ment of India to whom expenditure proposals were first 
submitted. When the Commander-in-Chief wished to make 
any proposal for reform or for expenditure, he submitted it 
to the Government of India. The practice was that he sent 
it to the Military Department, where the Military JNIember 
recorded his opinion. If expenditure was involved, the 
proposal went next to the Finance Department, where it 
was also noted upon. In either case, after being noted 
upon by one or both of these Departments, the proposal 
went to the Viceroy. If the Viceroy and the Commander- 
in-Chief and the Military Member were in general agree- 
ment, the proposal was adopted. If there were differences 
of opinion, i^ was either referred back for further con- 
sideration, or circulated to every member of the Council, 
and decided by vote after debate. 

The system was really devised to serve two main 
purposes. The first was to provide an expert check upon 
military expenditure, by far the largest single item in the 
Indian Budget. The second was to provide the Viceroy 
and his Council with an independent military adviser ; for 
otherwise they would have been at the mercy of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief. The Military Member was expected to 
ensure continuity of administration. He was further 
supposed to watch specially over the interests of the Native 
Army, when the Commander-in-Chief happened to be an 
officer with little Indian experience. In the case of Lord 

417 2 D 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Kitchener, it may be mentioned that at the time he assumed 
command his whole knowledge of India was derived from a 
week or two spent at some Delhi manoeuvres many years 
before. As to the importance of providing the Government 
of India with a second military opinion, the views of Lord 
Roberts may be quoted. He said : 

" The Commander-in-Chief is the military adviser of the 
Viceroy on all matters connected with the Army ; but 
whether he is the adviser on military policy would depend, 
I imagine, on his personal character, and his knowledge of 
the country and the people. A Commander-in-Chief 
strange to India, without any acquaintance with the 
inhabitants, and with only a very general idea of our 
position in India, both as regards external and internal 
affairs, would be a very unsafe adviser, nor, I imagine, would 
any Viceroy be inclined to depend upon such a man for 
advice in the matter of military policy." 

These words exactly describe Lord Kitchener when he 
became Commander-in-Chief, yet they were uttered in 1897, 
long before it seemed possible that they might ever be 
applied to him. Speaking in the House of Lords on 
August 1, 1905, Lord Roberts said : 

" I have no hesitation in saying that in my opinion it is 
essential to the security of India that the Viceroy should not 
be dependent on the advice of a single soldier, however 
eminent and distinguished he may be. Even if he were an 
Indian officer and his experience had been entirely Indian, as 
was the case with myself, I consider it would be advan- 
tageous for the Viceroy to have at his side a second adviser 
not directly connected with the Army. But when the 
Commander-in-Chief is, as in the present instance, a 
complete stranger to India, I consider it to be a positive 
danger to our hold over that country that he should be the 
only one to advise the Viceroy on military matters. ... It 
is essential that the Viceroy should have on his Council 
an officer — he need not be a great soldier — intimately 

418 



^ 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

acquainted with India, especially with the Native Army, 
its feelings and its idiosyncrasies." 

Lord Lansdowne, in the same debate, expressed the 
view that the duties of the Commander-in-Chief and 
Military Member " should not be concentrated in the 
person of a single officer, however distinguished." Two 
other ex-Viceroys still alive, Lord Elgin and Lord Ampthill, 
have signified in varying form their adherence to similar 
views ; while opinions tending to the same conclusion have 
been recorded by Lord Ripon, Lord Dufferin, and Lord 
Northbrook, among ex- Viceroys who have passed away. 
The only Viceregal supporters of the opposite attitude have 
been Lord Minto, who went to India in the full knowledge 
of the change that was to be made ; and Lord Lytton, who 
was wont to turn for military advice, not to the Commander- 
in-Chief nor to the Military Member of his day, but to his 
Military Secretary, Sir George Pomeroy Colley. At the 
time the controversy arose, every living ex- Viceroy endorsed 
the contention that the duty of offering military advice to 
the Government of India should not be left in the hands of 
a single individual. 

The question of the attitude of the Military Department 
towards Army Headquarters before Lord Kitchener arrived 
in India is of considerable importance. The Government of 
India afterwards brought together a great array of evidence, 
with the object of showing that the Military Department 
had never exceeded its proper functions. Many eminent 
authorities were cited, and many impressive facts were 
quoted. My own view is that the Department had gradually 
assumed a place in the administrative machine appreciably in 
excess of its prescriptive rights. It was not free from the 
stigma of circumlocutory methods. It had undergone an 
accretion of power, and was in the habit of taking a generous 
view of its share of authority. It was not obstructive, as 
was sometimes alleged, but it was disposed to encroach. 

419 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Discussing its working at the time Lord Kitchener landed, 
and when no one dreamed of the storm which was presently 
to break, I ventured to say that " it thought more of Budgets 
than of efficiency " ; and I still believe that the statement 
partly explained the situation. These tendencies had prob- 
ably become accentuated during the illness of Sir William 
Lockhart, and the subsequent prolonged tenure of office by 
Sir Power Palmer, who was admittedly only holding his post 
for another's convenience. Yet though Lord Roberts had 
casually hinted at " bitter disappointments," he and others 
whose testimony is beyond question had declared that there 
had been no serious diffisrences between the two branches of 
the military administration in recent years. The working of 
the system really depended upon the personalities of the 
men holding the two offices. An unassertive Military 
Member would be prone to give way to an imperious 
Commander-in-Chief; and when the Military Member was 
masterful, and the Commander-in-Chief was indisposed to 
press his views with vehemence, the reverse occurred. 
Exactly the same variation is noted from time to time in 
the relations between a Viceroy and a Secretary of State ; 
but when both the Viceroy and the head of the India Office 
are peremptory, there is sometimes an explosion. 

It has to be observed, on the other hand, that the 
Commander-in-Chief, in his present form, was almost a new 
luminary in the Indian firmament. Until 1895 he had only 
commanded the Bengal Army, and there were separate 
Commanders-in-Chief for Bombay and Madras, Even Lord 
Roberts never had either administration or command of the 
whole Army of India. The Commander-in-Chief was, 
further, an extraordinary member of the Viceroy's Council, 
and it was at the option of the Secretary of State whether 
he was admitted to the Council at all. The Military 
Member had a seat on the Council by virtue of his office, as 
part of the Government of India. The abolition of the two 
Presidency commands in 1895 gave the Commander-in- 

420 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

Chief an enormous access of authority, and I think it tended 
to diminish the relative prestige of the Military Member. 
It is difficult to strike a balance, but if in the seven years 
following 1895 the Commander-in-Chief had not become an 
orb of increasing splendour, it was in spite of the fact that 
he had been endowed with vastly larger powers. He was 
only under one comprehensive and, as I hold, salutary 
restraint. He could not order expenditure, except for small 
sums, without reference to the Military Department ; though 
he could appeal to the Viceroy, and from him to the Council, 
and even, by an indirect method, to the Secretary of State, 
if his proposals were overruled. The Commander-in-Chief, 
in short, had far larger facilities for carrying his proposals 
than are possessed by most military administrators. What- 
ever the faults of the Military Department may have been, 
they sliould have been met by reform, and not by abolition. 
There was no part of Lord Kitchener's work in India which 
would have failed to reach completion as a consequence of 
the continued existence of the Military Department ; and he 
owed far more to its careful scrutiny of his earlier proposals 
than has ever been acknowledged. 

It is admitted that Lord Kitchener came to India deter- 
mined to destroy ttie Military Department, although he had 
no personal knowledge of its working. In his Minute of 
Jaimary 1, 1905, Lord Kitchener stated that "about this 
time two years ago" he had submitted to the Viceroy a 
paper advocating *' the abolition of dual control." On his 
own showing, he raised the question when he had been in 
India four weeks. He w^ent on to say that the Viceroy 
" wisely considered" tliat his views would lose much of their 
weight if put forward at so early a stage, and accordingly he 
withdrew them. Ttie fact that Lord Kitchener impetuously 
prejudged tlie isbue upon hearsay evidence is one of tlie 
weakest points in his case. He had heard amid the great 
assemblage of soldiers in South Africa much mordant 
criticism of the Indian JMilitary Department from officers in 

421 



L 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

whose j udgment he placed reUance. After further inquiries in 
London, he had decided upon the course he should pursue, 
and he left England with so many good wishes for the 
general success of his work in India that he believed he 
could reckon upon support at home. With characteristic 
determination, he began the attack the moment he arrived. 

I have failed in my brief account of the origin of this 
controversy if I have not made it clear that behind it there 
lay a principle of the very gravest moment, not only to 
India, but still more to Great Britain and the Empire. It 
e.nbodied an issue which repeatedly recurs in the history of 
nations, and if the propaganda of many writers gains general 
acceptance, it is an issue which Great Britain may once 
more have to decide for herself, as she has done in past 
centuries. Lord Kitchener was not pursuing any personal 
animosity, for he had no personal feeling against men he 
had never seen. He wanted a " free hand " in India ; he 
came to the conclusion that the INIilitary Department would 
prevent him from having a " free hand " ; he embarked upon 
a course to which he adhered inflexibly, and in the end he 
triumphed. But what is meant by a " free hand " ? When- 
ever a man attains exceptional eminence in any department 
of public administration, a demand arises in the Press and 
on the platform that he may be given a "free hand." In 
particular, we are constantly implored to place the Army 
or the Navy under the unfettered control of some single 
individual who has risen to transitory fame. The "free 
hand" indicated generally proves, upon inquiry, to imply 
a complete abandonment of all the checks and safeguards 
which have been ev^olved by prolonged experience of con- 
stitutional methods. Moreover, it leaves no room for a 
recurrence of such episodes as the great part played by 
Lord Barham in compassing the downfall of Napoleon. 
We are asked to sacrifice our whole administrative system 
upon the altar of individual ability. But our constitutional 
system was devised for normal administrators. It cannot 

422 



ARMY REFOllM AND LORD KITCHENER 

be destroyed out of deference to the ambition or the capacity 
of one exceptional man, who may have a dozen successors 
of mediocre type. That way lies, not salvation, but ultimate 
destruction. 

There was, in the opinion of the Indian public at that 
time, very little in the record of Lord Kitchener to justify 
the demand advanced in his behalf that a system which had 
been tested for a century sliould be rent asunder almost 
before his baggage was brought ashore. Egypt, be it under- 
stood, does not bulk quite so largely in the eyes of India as 
it does to the public at home. To men who are handling 
three hundred millions of people, tlie control of eleven mil- 
lions seems a minor achievement ; and the problems of 
Egypt, difficult though they are, appear simple beside the 
extraordinary complexity of Indian affairs. India, too, 
reflects that many of the officials, from Lord Cromer down- 
wards, who have helped to build up the British control 
of Egypt, were borrowed from her services ; and she is 
inclined to think that perhaps the men who have conferred 
the greatest tangible benefits upon Egypt are the Anglo- 
Indian irrigation engineers. So that, while India gazes with 
admiration and approval upon the work of the British in 
Egypt, she contemplates it calmly and with some sense of 
proportion. 

In the same way, the campaigns which led up to the 
recovery of the Soudan did not possess quite the same 
glamour beneath an Indian sky. They required tenacity, 
endurance, and dogged determination ; but they did not 
appear necessarily to imply the possession of superhuman 
qualities. Again, the protracted duration of the later 
stages of the South African War did not seem to the eager 
watchers in India to be beyond the possibility of comparison. 
I am not seeking to disparage the exploits of a great com- 
mander. I am trying to describe a frame of mind, to ex- 
plain how these things were looked at in India, to make it 
clear why India was not willing to destroy in a moment its 

423 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

military system at the bidding of a conqueror who to its fancy 
seemed to murmur in Bibhcal phrases of "my glory, and 
my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness." 
There was the additional objection that Lord Kitchener had 
very little experience as a constitutional administrator. His 
desire to abolish without delay the existing constitutional 
checks upon his office seemed to imply an impatience of 
constitutional control which was in accordance with the 
reputation that had preceded him. Yet I do not think 
Lord Kitchener had the least desire, either originally or at 
any later time, to be literally unconstitutional in his methods 
of procedure. Distinctions of the kind made no impression 
on his mind. He wanted undivided control, not for any 
selfish reason, but because he meant to carry out in his own 
way the task he conceived to lie before him. To him the 
issue appeared simple, and considerations which others re- 
garded as imperative were in his view mere idle subtleties. 
His was an attitude which may perchance be cheaply 
described as due to " impatience of red-tape " ; but the 
student of history will know otherwise. 

The somewhat crude proposals which Lord Kitchener 
formulated immediately on his arrival were, as I have 
stated, withdrawn ; and though he referred to the issue 
more than once afterwards, nothing has been disclosed con- 
cerning any intervening communications. In the meantime, 
efforts had been made by the Government of India to meet 
Lord Kitchener's wishes. In his Minute of February 6, 
1 905, Lord Curzon described what was done, in the following 
terms : 

" Wherever the existing regulations or practice seemed 
to raise trivial or unnecessary obstacles, we modified them. 
We stopped the noting by junior officers in the Military 
Department upon proposals emanating from the Commander- 
in-Chief, that was said to be a cause of offisnce. We trans- 
ferred the order of all Indian Army Orders from the INIilitary 
Department to the Commander-in-Chief. We gave him an 

424 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

officer as Financial Adviser. We are about to transfer to 
him the executive control of the Supply and Transport 
Corps. These are only casual illustrations which could 
easily be multiplied. We have, in fact, endeavoured to 
facilitate the execution of Lord Kitchener's plans by every 
means in our power." 

Lord Kitchener has acknowledged, however, that his 
views never varied, in spite of these concessions. It is 
presumed that he expected to be able to prosecute his 
attack on the Military Department after Lord Curzon left 
India, which under ordinary circumstances would have been 
within a year of his taking over the command ; but the 
extension of office granted to the Viceroy altered his plans. 
The next step is again recorded by Lord Kitchener, who 
states in the Minute already quoted that when Lord Curzon 
was about to proceed to England in April 1904, he gave 
him " a revised Minute on the same subject," in which he 
again advocated the abolition of the Military Department. 
As to what took place while Lord Curzon was in England, 
I shall only quote two statements. The first was made in 
the House of Lords on June 28, 1909, by Mr. Brodrick 
(then Viscount Midleton) who said : 

*' The question . . . had been discussed with him (Lord 
Curzon) by the Prime Minister, by Lord Roberts, and by 
the India Office officials ; but so grave was the position that 
while that question was still being considered here, and 
while the noble Lord the Viceroy was absent from India, 
matters reached such a pass at Simla that Lord Kitchener 
found himself unable to continue the command, and through 
Lord Ampthill, who was then the Viceroy, he desired me to 
submit to the King his resignation of the office of Com- 
mander-in-Chief." 

This was, I think, the first public disclosure of Lord 
Kitchener's threat of resignation in 1904, which had a very 
disturbing effect upon the Home Government. The second 

425 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

statement was made in the House of Lords on August 1, 
1905, by the Marquis of Bath, then Under-Secretary for 
India, who said that " when Lord Curzon was in this country 
last summer the home authorities were able to consult him 
on the manner in which the question should be brought up." 

It was " brought up," obviously with the concurrence 
of Lord Curzon, in a despatch from Mr. Brodrick, dated 
December 2, 1904, which must have reached Calcutta 
almost simultaneously with the returning Viceroy. In this 
despatch the Secretary of State requested the Government 
of India to ascertain whether the two branches of the 
military administration were working harmoniously, and 
whether any change was desirable. They were further to 
furnish the Home Government with the opinions of the 
Commander-in-Chief and of the Military IVIember. It can 
hardly be supposed, however, that the Viceroy concurred in 
some of the statements of the despatch ; for Mr. Brodrick 
suggested that the weakness of the mobilisation arrange- 
ments were due to dual control, whereas they were really 
due to past financial stringency. 

Lord Kitchener lost no time in responding to the invita- 
tion of the Home Government. His Minute was ready on 
New Year's Day, 1905. It was an uncompromising attack 
upon the whole system of Army administration in India, 
which he declared to be "faulty, inefficient, and incapable 
of the expansion necessary for a great war." He described 
the Military Member as " really omnipotent in military 
matters," and said that he could prevent the wishes of the 
Commander-in-Chief from being carried out " even in 
questions of discipline and training." Peace routine, he main- 
tained, had in India overshadowed preparation for war. 
The system involved endless delay, and implied want of 
trust. The two authorities often had divergent opinions, 
and the compromises arrived at were satisfactory to neither 
of them. The military head of the Army ought to be 
responsible for the supply to the troops of transport, re- 

426 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

mounts, food, clothing, armaments, ammunition and other 
munitions of war. He denied that under the change he 
proposed the Commander-in-Chief would acquire too much 
power, or that the work would be greater than one man 
could perform efficiently. The existing system meant an 
unnecessary duplication of work, and why, asked Lord 
Kitchener, should the Army require two heads, more than 
any other department? He contended that the Military 
Member did not safeguard the revenues of the country, 
because the ordinary military expenditure was strictly 
limited to a specified sum, and all new expenditure had 
to be sanctioned by the Viceroy in Council and by the 
Secretary of State. To the argument that the Viceroy 
needed an independent mihtary opinion, he replied that 
the existence of two opinions caused the Army to take 
sides, which was unsatisfactory, while it brought the Viceroy 
"into the arena of discussion on contentious military sub- 
jects." Finally, he proposed the creation of a War Depart- 
ment, with the Commander-in-Chief at its head under the 
title of " War Member of Council" The Department was 
to include a General Staff, Adjutant-General's and Quarter- 
master-General's Departments, a Director-General of Ord- 
nance, a Financial Secretary nominated by the Finance 
Department, and a Secretary to Government. The Military 
Member was to disappear. 

Major-General Sir Edmond Elles, the Military Member, 
an exceptionally able officer, replied to Lord Kitchener in 
a Minute dated January 24, 1905. It was a noteworthy 
feature of the question, by the way, that for many years the 
Military Members invariably had been officers of great dis- 
tinction and unusual capacity. The names of Sir George 
Chesney, Sir Henry Brackenbury, Sir Donald Stewart, Sir 
Neville Chamberlain, Sir Henry Norman, Sir Samuel 
Browne, Lord Napier of Magdala, and Sir James Outram, 
have attained a permanent place in British military annals. 
Sir Edmond Elles held in his Minute that a change of 

427 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

system was unnecessary, but that a change in the working 
of the existing system was required. Tlie Commander-in- 
Chief must, however, be prepared freely and frankly to 
admit his subordination to the Governor-General in Council, 
who was the constitutional head of the Army. The defec- 
tive strength of the Field Army had been due to lack of 
funds owing to famine, costly expeditions, and loss on 
exchange. The necessity of increasing the Field Army to 
eight divisions had been discussed early in 1902, but the 
question was postponed pending Lord Kitchener s arrival. 
He denied that the JNlilitary Member was omnipotent, or 
that the system was one of dual control. The Military 
Member represented the Government of India, and worked 
upon the delegated authority of the Governor-General in 
Council. He contended that there had been no undue 
delays, and that matters of major importance were disposed 
of quickly. " We have been waiting for some years," Sir 
Edmond Elles said, " to redistribute the Army and increase 
the Field Army. W^e awaited the man and the money." He 
recorded his deliberate opinion that no Commander-in-Chief 
could properly control the work of Army Headquarters and 
of the Military Department. Lord Kitchener might, but 
not " men of more ordinary capacity with small Indian 
experience." The comparison with the heads of other 
departments was fallacious. The Commander-in-Chief was 
not the head of a revenue-producing, but of the greatest 
spending department of the State. The system in the mili- 
tary branch was necessarily very different from the purely 
civil branches. The Commander-in-Chief could disregard 
the views of his staff' officers, but the Secretary of the 
Military Department was a staff officer of the Viceroy, and 
could go direct to the N^iceroy should he differ from the 
Military Member. As to hnaiicial control, he claimed, and 
quoted examples to prove, that the hnancial supervision 
exercised by the JNIilitary Department, quite independently 
of the Finance Department, was real and effective. As for 

428 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

Lord Kitchener's scheme, it was a proposal to establish a 
military autocracy. It was an exact adaptation to Indian 
conditions of the Army Council at home, but with material 
differences. The Army Council administered and did not 
command the Army, but under Lord Kitchener's scheme he 
would himself combine all administrative and executive 
duties, a position which found no parallel in any of the 
armies of the Great Powers. In the Army Council the 
Secretary of State and Members were all equal and had 
equal votes ; Lord Kitchener would only have subordinates 
with no vote or right of dissent at all. 

In a Minute dated February 5, 1905, the Viceroy 
proceeded to comment upon the views of Lord Kitchener 
and Sir Edmond Elles. He discounted the tendency to 
make comparisons with Continental practice, or to discuss 
dualism from an abstract standpoint. The Government of 
India itself was an illustration of the dualism which entered 
into every branch of British administration, in the respective 
parts played in it by the Governor-General in Council and 
the Secretary of State in Council. Lord Kitchener had in 
the preceding two years carried through a series of reforms 
that would stamp his name indelibly on the military history 
of India. His suggestion that he had been hampered and 
obstructed at every turn was without foundation, for he had 
received the support of the Council and of the Military Depart- 
ment to a degree without precedent. Lord Kitchener had 
completely misconceived the constitution of the Govern- 
ment of India. The Military Member did not criticise or 
accept or refuse the Commander-in-Chief's proposals as an 
independent military authority, but as the constitutional 
representative of the Government of India ; and the Govern- 
ment of India were by law invested with the supreme 
control of military affairs. Lord Kitchener's proposal was 
in reality not to disestablish an individual or even a 
department, but to subvert the military authority of the 
Government of India as a whole, and to substitute for it a 

429 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

military autocracy in the person of the Commander-in-Chief. 
Lord Kitchener's reference to other departments appeared to 
rest upon a misunderstanding of the essential difference 
between civil and military affairs. The Home Member, for 
example, was practically subjected to multiple control, but 
discipline in the military branch was entirely different, and 
meant in a peculiar degree che subordination of private 
judgment to higher authority. Under the new scheme the 
anxiety and labours of the Viceroy would be immensely 
aggravated. Upon him would in practice be thrown the 
entire brunt of accepting or rejecting the proposals of his 
principal colleague. Lord Dufferin had said of a similar 
project that " the Viceroy would be without any adviser 
save the representative of the Army, who w^ould be more 
specially interested in pressing proposals involving expendi- 
ture or changes in organisation," and " the revenues of the 
country would be at the mercy of the Commander-in-Chief." 
Lord Curzon added that he had known instances where 
the Viceroy had been saved from serious mistakes by 
having a second military adviser. The chain of subordinate 
authority proposed by the Commander-in-Chief would not 
offer any such safeguard. Any reasonable reform or re- 
adjustment in the present system he would be willing to 
consider, but no such proposals were before them. 

Lord Kitchener penned a curt Minute of Dissent on 
March 18, 1905. It contained only three paragraphs, 
offered no reply, and rested on the assertion : " My argu- 
ments remain uncontro verted, and are, I believe, incon- 
trovertible." It was sufficiently summed up in the House 
of Lords by Lord Ripon, who said : " When I turned to 
Lord Kitchener's Minute, I found no reply at all. I found 
nothing but a lofty declaration that he would not reply, and 
that he knew he was quite right." 

The Government of India reviewed the four documents 
in a powerful despatch to the Secretary of State, dated 
March 23, 1905. They remarked that whatever charges 

430 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

could be brought against the existing system, that of extra- 
vagance could not possibly be sustained. On the contrary, 
it was one of the sources of complaint that the financial 
control was sometimes thought to be over-rigid and exacting. 
Stress was, however, laid upon the fact that Lord Kitchener's 
redistribution scheme, involving a heavy outlay, had been 
most readily financed. The salient passages of the despatch 
were these: 

" We say deliberately that we should regard with positive 
dismay any change that would in any degree dethrone the 
Government of India from their constitutional control of the 
Indian Army, or set up a single Commander in their place. 
We doubt if a military command of such overwhelming 
authority would be tolerated in any country unused to 
dictatorship, and we think that in India it would be 
peculiarly dangerous. . . . 

" We cannot too strongly or emphatically express our 
conviction that the INIilitary jilember is an essential element 
in the Government of India. . . . His Majesty's Govern- 
ment may be invited to consider the position that would be 
produced in England if a Commander-in-Chief of the British 
Army possessed a seat in the Cabinet, if he were the sole 
representative of the Army there, if he enjoyed the power 
and rank of the Secretary of State for War in addition, and 
if His Majesty's Ministers were called upon to accept or 
reject his proposals with no independent or qualified opinion 
to assist them. And yet this is precisely the situation which 
we are asked to accept by Lord Kitchener in India. . . . 

" Where a recommendation from the head of the Army 
is not now accepted, at least this is only done upon com- 
petent advice, and after exhaustive examination by specially 
selected officers possessing professional knowledge. Under 
Lord Kitchener's scheme these guarantees for free and im- 
partial discussion would have disappeared, expert criticism 
would already have been eliminated before the Government 
of India were approached, and the latter, ignorant of mili- 
tary matters, would be left to accept or ri^\ect military 
proposals in the dark. . . . 

481 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

" We are unhesitatingly opposed to the destruction of a 
system which has worked well for nearly half a century, 
which has earned the approval of a succession of the most 
distinguished Military Commanders, and which we believe 
to be entirely reconcilable even with the altered conditions 
and the higher standards of the present day. Still more do 
we dissent from the creation in its place of an organisation 
to which no parallel exists, so far as we know, in any Army 
or any Administration in the world." 

The despatch was signed by every member of the Govern- 
ment of India, and Lord Kitchener was the sole dissentient. 
Therein, as Lord Curzon conceived it, lay the strength of 
his position. It did not seem possible that the Cabinet 
would jettison, not only the Viceroy, but the whole Govern- 
ment of India, at the instance of the Commander-in-Chief. 

I should not now be inclined to endorse without reserve 
the contents of any of the five documents I have quoted. 
Lord Kitchener's Minute showed a complete failure to 
appreciate the constitutional aspects of the question ; his 
further JMinute of Dissent was contemptuous, because he 
declined to answer a single argument, although he had 
initiated the discussion, and by all the laws of administrative 
usage he was bound to reply. The three papers which 
collectively presented the case for the Government of India 
were too uncompromising. They did not admit the exist- 
ence of a solitary defect, and left no opening for arrange- 
ment. No modified scheme of reform was proposed. It 
is true that the Viceroy and Sir Edmond Elles expressed 
general willingness to consider any reasonable reform, but 
the expression became almost meaningless when compared 
with the rest of their vigorous denunciation. They could 
well plead, however, that the example of extreme vigour in 
disputation was set by Lord Kitchener. His case was mani- 
festly overstated, which cannot be alleged in the same degree 
against his opponents. 

The scene was then shifted to London, and for several 

432 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

weeks India heard nothing about the question. The general 
public in India had, in fact, very little knowledge of the 
heat which had been generated in high quarters. There 
were rumours of grave differences, but the Press was silent. 
Meanwhile the Secretary of State, early in May, convened 
a special committee upon the question, from which a sub- 
committee was afterwards appointed. The sub-committee 
consisted of Sir Arthur Godley, Lord Roberts, Sir James 
Mackay, Sir John Gordon, Sir Edward Law, and Sir E. 
Stedman, while the remaining members of the committee 
were Sir George White, the Marquis of Salisbury, and the 
Secretary of State. I shall make no comment upon the 
composition of the committee. A peculiar feature of its 
proceedings was that they were kept secret, the plea after- 
wards advanced being that the committee was " depart- 
mental." The fact that it had been convened at all was 
not disclosed until after Lord Curzon had resigned. 

It is convenient, however, to mention the proceedings of 
these two committees in chronological order. The sub- 
committee did not adopt Lord Kitchener's proposals in their 
entirety. It recommended the transformation of the Mili- 
tary Department into a Department of Military Supply, 
and the limitation of the Military IMember to the control 
of Army contracts, the purchase of stores, ordnance, re- 
mounts, military works, clothing, and the medical and 
marine services. It was of opinion that neither the Military 
Member nor his department should have the power to veto 
any proposal put forward by the Commander-in-Chief, but 
that such power should rest exclusively with the Governor- 
General in Council. The Military Member should be the 
adviser of the Governor- General in Council " on questions 
of general policy, as distinct from purely military questions " 
— a very ambiguous distinction. 

The general committee reported that it had sought 
advice from Lord Elgin, Lord Cromer, Sir Henry Bracken- 
bury, Sir David Barbour, Sir Edwin CoUen, and others, but 

43« 2 iL 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

it conspicuously omitted to disclose the nature of the advice 
it had received. It declared that the position of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief in the official hierarchy was anomalous, and 
that the Military Member had in recent years tended more 
and more to become an expert adviser rather than a civil 
administrator. It held that the Military Department had 
"recently formed the habit of giving authoritatively an 
independent opinion upon purely military questions." At 
the same time it said that it could not doubt "that the 
concentration of the whole responsibility of Supply of the 
Army under one head, if that head is to be the Commander- 
in-Chief, would be opposed to all modern principles in 
regard to armies." It concluded by expressing general con- 
currence with the recommendations of the sub-committee. 
Lord Roberts stated in 1909 that in committee he "strongly 
opposed the abolition of the Military Member." Lord Lans- 
downe stated on the same occasion that the committee " was 
unanimous in favour of retaining in some shape or form a 
Military Member of the Council." 

Mr. Brodrick proceeded to draft a despatch, which was 
dated May 31. It reached Simla on June 18, and was pub- 
lished with the other documents already dealt with in a 
special Gazette of India on June 23. In effect it embodied 
the recommendations of the committee and sub-committee, 
though it never mentioned the existence of those bodies. 
It directed that the Commander-in-Chief's Department 
should be called the Army Department, and that a Chief of 
the Staff should be created for the assistance of the Com 
mander-in-Chief. The Secretary of State peremptorily 
ordered that the whole of the prescribed changes should 
be brought into operation on October 1. 

It is not easy, even now, to convey an impression of the' 
extraordinary sensation produced in India by the publication 
of these despatches. At first the public were almost unable v 
to believe that the most powerful Viceroy whom India had 
known for many years, and the entire Government of India, 

1 



I 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

had been not only condemned, but as it seemed openly 
humiliated, at the instance of the Commander-in-Chief. 
That was the grievous mistake of the Home Government. 
Had Lord Kitchener been a thousand times right, the 
Cabinet should never have suffered the Viceroy to be over- 
thrown in the broad light of day. People unacquainted 
with India have little conception of the enormous import- 
ance to British rule of the maintenance of the authority and 
prestige of the Viceroy and the Government of India. The 
Viceroy is much more than the embodiment upon the spot 
of the power of Parliament. He is much more than the 
*' agent " of the Secretary of State, as Lord JNlorley per- 
mitted Mr. Montagu contemptuously to describe him. He 
is first of all the accredited representative of the King- 
Emperor, the officer who holds authority from the absent 
Sovereign, who dispenses honours and privileges in the 
Sovereign's name ; and the people of India, who reck little 
of Parliaments, regard him chiefly in the light of his relations 
with the Crown, the only symbol of union which they 
willingly acknowledge. They look always to the Viceroy, 
and never to the Commander-in-Chief. The publication of 
these despatches, and the decision they disclosed, inflicted a 
grave blow upon the prestige of the Viceroyalty, from which 
it will not soon recover. The consequences have been 
accentuated since by the steadfast and reiterated efforts of 
Lord Morley to exalt, at the expense of the Viceroyalty, the 
office of the Secretary of State, whose duties and functions 
he magnified unduly. It should be a cardinal rule of the 
Administration of India never to suffer the authority of 
the Viceroy in Council to be publicly minimised or impaired. 
In this instance the effect of the shock was heightened 
by the tone of the despatch of the Secretary of State. 
Whatever may be the merits of Mr. Brodrick as an adminis- 
trator, he was never at his best when he took pen in hand. 
Lord Ripon, who was by no means an unkindly critic, said 
that no such despatch had been addressed to the Government 

435 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

of India since Lord Ellenborough sent to Lord Canning his 
famous despatch about the affairs of Oudh. That Uterary 
effort, it may be remembered, was regarded in England as 
so reprehensible that its publication at once brought about 
Lord EUenborough's political downfall, and nearly involved 
the Ministry in ruin. I am disposed to say now that 
Mr. Brodrick's despatch was perhaps too severely con- 
demned at the time, and to believe that its author was 
honestly unconscious that it would give dire offence ; but 
certainly it was not calculated to promote peace. It was 
written from the point of view of an advocate, and not of a 
judge ; it criticised the Viceroy in a manner foreign to the 
measured pronouncements of a Secretary of State, but took 
no single exception to the contentions of Lord Kitchener ; 
and it practically ignored the larger constitutional con- 
siderations on which the case of the Government of India 
was based. Its gravest defect was, not only that it was in 
several respects misleading — I do not say intentionally so — 
but that it ordered the Government of India to put into 
execution without delay an entirely new scheme which they 
were not even expected to consider ; and this was the point 
which helped to determine the attitude of the public and the 
Press in India. The Supply Department was not Lord 
Kitchener's scheme, nor the Government of India's scheme ; 
it was the invention of Mr. Brodrick and his committee. 
The motive may be acknowledged ; it was an attempt to 
build a bridge and to force its acceptance without dis- 
cussion. But the bridge was a sham. Every one knew 
that the Supply Department was a flimsy substitute, that it 
would not endure, that Lord Kitchener had won an over- 
whelming victory, and that the Home Government had 
discarded the wholesome principle of civil supremacy in the 
Indian Administration. There was little surprise when it 
became known on June 27 that the Viceroy had tendered 
his resignation. 

I pause to say a word upon the attitude of the Home 

436 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

Government, about which many hard things were said at 
the time. To India, where the Government of India were 
almost unanimously supported — Lord Kitchener had very 
few sincere adherents outside his own staff during that 
eventful summer — it seemed as though the Cabinet had 
rejected the unanswerable case of the Government of India 
simply because they feared the effect upon public opinion at 
home if they permitted Lord Kitchener to resign, as he had 
more than once threatened to do. It was known that the 
Ministry were losing ground, and that any serious agitation 
might bring about their defeat. Such an agitation would 
unquestionably have arisen if Lord Kitchener, the chosen 
hero of the crowd, had suddenly appeared in England in the 
guise of a foiled reformer. There can be no doubt that fear 
of such a consequence weighed heavily with the Home 
Government, and may very well have tipped the scale in 
their decision. 

Yet it would be an injustice, in the light of later know- 
ledge, to suggest that they were influenced solely, or even 
primarily, by the urgent necessity for self-preservation. It 
is almost the only point on which I shall permit myself 
to make statements which are not based upon the public 
records. There is now every reason to believe that Mr. 
Balfour's Government held strong and sincere views upon 
the merits of the issue, and gave their decision in accordance 
with those views. It is understood that Mr. Balfour himself 
had given the question careful and anxious attention, that 
he had acquainted himself with many of its bearings at least 
a year before the decision was made, and that he had arrived 
at a conclusion from which he never swerved. Mr. Brodrick 
had for years taken a special interest in Army problems, he 
had been at the War Office, and his sympathies were 
naturally enlisted in behalf of Lord Kitchener's conten- 
tions. Lord Lansdowne was an ex-Viceroy, he thought the 
Viceroy needed a second military adviser, he believed that 
the Military Supply JNIember would serve that end, and he 

437 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

was in any case eager for compromise. Of the larger con- 
stitutional issue, of the effect of the decision upon the 
Viceregal office, of the disregard of the fundamental prin- 
ciple of civil supremacy, the Home Government appeared 
to be oblivious. But though their judgment may be 
deplored, and though they were greatly and unwisely 
influenced by extraneous considerations, I do not think 
their sincerity can now be impugned. 

After a few days it was stated in India that the Viceroy's 
resignation was in suspense pending the consideration of 
certain proposed modifications in the Secretary of State's 
scheme. These modifications are described in a telegram 
from the Government of India dated July 6, 1905. Their 
principal feature was a suggestion that the new Supply 
Member " should be available for official consultation by the 
Viceroy on all military questions without distinction, and 
not only upon questions of general policy, or when cases 
are marked for Council." It was further proposed that all 
important changes in military organisation, or in conditions 
of service of all ranks, or in customs affiscting the Native 
Army, which might be proposed by either Military Depart- 
ment, should be discussed by the Mobilisation Committee 
or some equivalent body. In a telegram dated July 14, the 
Secretary of State accepted these proposals, while pointing 
out that neither of the Military Members of Council could 
have any special claim to be consulted or to note on the 
proposals of the other. Lord Kitchener concurred in the 
telegrams thus exchanged. Mr. Brodrick incidentally 
claimed that the recommendations of the Government of 
India were in accordance with his despatch of May 81, but 
this was not the case, for in that despatch it had been 
decided that the Commander-in-Chief should be the sole 
expert adviser of the Government on "purely military 
questions." The compromise was a poor one, but it was 
held to suffice. Lord Kitchener's scheme remained intact, 
but a notable con';'ession had been gained, though its value 

438 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

was dependent upon the selection of the new Member, 
which now became a matter of much importance. 

Lord Curzon's resignation was thus averted, and on 
July 18 he announced in the Legislative Council the nature 
of the modifications which had been made. His speech was 
restrained and colourless, and in India, where the full text 
was immediately published in accordance with custom, sur- 
prise was expressed at its remarkable moderation. There 
was only one expression to which exception might be taken. 
Lord Curzon said that the Government of India might be 
pardoned " if they were somewhat surprised at the manner 
in which it had been thought necessary to convey these 
orders." The phrase had best have been left unspoken, but 
allowance must be made for the surrounding circumstances, 
and for the unusual position in which the Government of 
India found themselves. They had been roughly ordered 
to adopt a scheme in the preparation of which they were not 
consulted. At the close of the speech, after explaining the 
modifications for which he had thought it necessary to ask, 
Lord Curzon alluded to " the prerogative which was conceded 
to the Government of India as far back as three-quarters of 
a century ago." The allusion was perfectly natural and 
seemly. The Charter Act of 1833 states, as I have already 
pointed out, that " the superintendence, direction, and con- 
trol of the whole civil and military government " of India is 
vested in the Governor-General in Council. 

The whole controversy then appeared to be at an end. 
The battle was over, and there was nothing more to be said. 
The country learned with absolute bewilderment two days 
later .that the speech which had seemed so studiously un- 
critical, which had implied no recalcitrance or opposition, 
which had loyally accepted without reserve the decision 
of the Home Government, was being made the subject of 
angry condemnation in the House of Commons and in the 
English Press. What had happened was that a news agency 
had telegraphed to England for publication a sentence or 

439 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

two from the opening of the speech, and a few sentences 
from the close. Read without their context, they produced 
an impression exactly contrary from what was intended. 
The news agency was not to blame. Such episodes will 
occur continually until the British Empire realises that an 
essential condition of Imperial unity is the further cheapening 
of telegraphic rates. When telegrams can be sent to any 
country of the Empire as cheaply as within each of its com- 
ponent parts, more will have been done to bind the Empire 
together than can ever be accomplished by any scheme 
of inter- Imperial trade. I have known more than one dis- 
tinguished career almost ruined through the accident of an 
unduly condensed Press telegram. On this occasion the 
result was serious. Sir Henry Fowler used expressions in 
the House of Commons which left unfortunate misconcep- 
tions in the public mind. The Secretary of State im- 
periously directed that the full text of the speech should be 
telegraphed en clair. This was duly done, but the mis- 
leading impression which had been created was never 
removed, and it helped to exacerbate feeling in the closing 
stages of the controversy. 

For the trouble was not over. On July 17, the day 
before he made his speech in the Legislative Council, the 
Viceroy had telegraphed to the Secretary of State recom- 
mending as first Military Supply INIember, Major-General 
Sir Edmund Barrow, a distinguished officer who had formerly 
served in the Military Department. He had stated that 
General Barrow " would be acceptable both to Lord 
Kitchener and myself." Mr. Brodrick, in replying by tele- 
gram on August 1, said that the Cabinet were not wilhng 
to appoint General Barrow. He recognised General Bar- 
row's great capacity, but was advised that this would find 
more appropriate scope in the Frontier command or as 
Chief of the Staff. He added : " I hope to telegraph you 
very shortly the name of the officer we propose for JNlilitary 
Supply Department." 

440 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

Lord Curzon responded in a telegram dated August 2. 
He said it must be evident that he could only inaugurate 
the new system with the aid of a military colleague in whose 
experience, judgment, and ability he had the fullest con- 
fidence. If the Military Supply Member was to give 
general military advice to the Governor-General in Council, 
as decided by His Majesty's Government, and explicitly 
reaffirmed by Lord Lansdowne in the House of Lords on 
the previous day, he should be an officer of the highest posi- 
tion and qualifications. In these circumstances the Viceroy 
might reasonably expect, firstly, that he should be allowed 
to suggest the officer whom he considered best qualified for 
these purposes, and secondly, that in the absence of any 
strong reasons to the contrary, his suggestion should be 
favourably entertained. The Secretary of State had assigned 
no definite reason, but spoke of having received other advice. 
Surely the person most competent to advise as to a member 
of the Viceregal Council was the Viceroy himself ? General 
Barrow's name was submitted with the full knowledge of 
Lord Kitchener, and if any contrary advice had reached the 
Secretary of State, he could not accept its validity. 

On August 4, Mr. Brodrick telegraphed that he had 
consulted the Cabinet again. They could not favour '• the 
selection of an officer who from the positions he had pre- 
viously held could hardly be expected to inaugurate the 
new system with an open mind." He did not gather that 
Lord Kitchener recommended General Barrow, but that he 
knew of the Viceroy's intention to recommend him. His 
military advisers thought that the Military Supply JNIember 
should have some technical experience, as he would be in 
charge of the manufacturing departments. Mr. Brodrick 
continued : " Will you consult Lord Kitchener as to who 
in his opinion is the best man for the post, and let me have 
his views ? " The Government " must avoid any appoint- 
ment which would in their opinion tend to reproduce 
previous difficulties." 

441 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Lord Curzon next day telegraphed that Lord Kitchener 
did not consider it any part of the duty of the Commander- 
in-Chief to recommend to the Secretary of State a member 
of the Viceregal Council. It was apparent that the Home 
Government attached a fundamentally different interpreta- 
tion from himself to the modifications accepted on July 14, 
upon the acceptance of which alone he consented to remain 
in office. The chief point of those modifications was that 
the Supply Member should not merely be a surveyor of 
stores, but that he should be qualified to give advice on 
questions of general military policy. He continued : 

" You now propose to reject General Barrow% who pos- 
sesses these qualifications in an exceptional degree ; you sus- 
pect him of not possessing an open mind because he formerly 
served in Military Department, although you were willing 
to offer his services to Lord Kitchener as Chief of the Staff, 
and you plainly indicate the type of officer whom you desire, 
by stating that he should be chosen for technical experience 
of military stores and supplies, an experience which could 
not be expected to constitute him a qualified military adviser 
of Government of India on general question, but which 
General Barrow among his many attainments happens also 
to possess in an unusual degree. Position is therefore, in 
principle, almost exactly where it was when I resigned in 
June, and the main conditions which caused me to resign 
on that occasion have again been called into being." 

Lord Curzon closed his message by stating that the only 
conditions upon which he could carry out the policy of His 
Majesty's Government were that he should receive their 
support and be allowed the co-operation of the officer whom 
he considered best qualified for the purpose. If the Govern- 
ment were unable to accept his representation, he respect- 
fully requested the Prime Minister to place his resignation 
at once in the hands of His Majesty the King. 

Three days later, on August 8, Mr. Balfour made an 

442 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

unavailing attempt to heal the breach. He telegraphed : 
" His JNlajesty's Government have received your telegram 
with extreme regret. With every desire to meet your 
wishes they are unable to understand your position, and 
earnestly desire you to reconsider it." He continued that 
the duty of advising the King on the choice of Members of 
Council rested solely with the Secretary of State, and should 
not degenerate into a merely formal submission of the views 
and recommendations of the Viceroy. He deprecated the 
choice of General Barrow. 

I may interpolate the remark that from the moment the 
Viceroy was ordered to " consult Lord Kitchener," all talk 
of the Secretary of State's prerogative became a mere 
quibble. It was not enough that the Viceroy was defeated ; 
he was expected to go cap in hand to the victor to inquire 
his pleasure. Yet when he submitted a name himself he 
was reminded of the Secretary of State's prerogative. 

Lord Curzon replied once more in a telegram dated 
August 10, which was perhaps the most important of the 
series. He explained that his object in proposing the modi- 
fications which had been accepted was that the Government 
of India should possess a second military adviser who should 
have a charge befitting his position and responsibilities. 
Hence it followed that the Military Supply Department 
should be a substantial department of Government, and 
that the JNIember should possess the requisite authority and 
qualifications. The proposals of the Commander-in-Chief 
for carrying out the orders of the Secretary of State were 
now before him (they had just been submitted). He analysed 
them in his telegram, and said it was estimated that the 
Supply Member would not have two hours' work a day. 
All military power would be concentrated in the hands of 
Army Headquarters ; the proposals were indistinguishable 
from Lord Kitchener's original scheme, which had been 
rejected by the Home Government; and they were wholly 
inconsistent with the conception of the functions of the 

443 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Supply Member to which he had referred. In these circum- 
stances the creation of the Supply Member would involve 
an unpardonable waste of public money, and it would be 
better to dispense with the department altogether. If the 
Commander-in-Chief's point of view was to prevail, it was 
useless for him to remain in India, since he could not frame 
a scheme in accordance with it. If, on the other hand, he 
was desired to pursue the matter, he must again ask for an 
assurance of continuous support from the Government, and 
more particularly he should need the future co-operation of 
a colleague as Military Supply Member whom he knew and 
could trust. He had asked for General Barrow, not with the 
least idea of encroaching upon the constitutional prerogative 
of the Secretary of State, but because he was the only officer 
known to him who possessed the requisite qualifications. 

Special stress must be laid on this telegram of August 10, 
which makes one point very clear. It is commonly supposed, 
and sometimes stated in print, that Lord Curzon finally 
resigned on the personal question raised concerning General 
Barrow ; but that was only the nominal reason. The suc- 
cessive telegraphic despatches show quite plainly that he 
resigned because he perceived that the modifications for 
which he had struggled were being rendered worthless, that 
his second military adviser was meant to be a lay figure, and 
that the Supply Department was to be far more an empty 
shell than he had expected. In the telegram of August 10 
he demonstrated conclusively that the new department, as 
then conceived by Lord Kitchener, was a mere travesty, 
and that the Government of India were really brought back 
to the proposal with which the Commander-in-Chief had 
confronted them on New Year's Day. That his contentions 
were absolutely correct was proved by the total extinction 
of the new department in less than three years. Lord 
Kitchener assisted at its inglorious obsequies some months 
before he left India. It is difficult to believe that this vital 
explanatory telegram of August 10, which threw so much 

444 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

light on Lord Curzon's position, ever received due con- 
sideration at the hands of a Government which was perhaps 
growing weary of the strife in India. The Court of 
Directors would not read the despatches of Sir Stamford 
Raffles, and so we lost Java. One wonders how much 
attention was given to the despatch of August 10, 1905. 

The Parliamentary paper discloses two facts. One is 
that the Secretary of State replied within twenty-four hours, 
on August 11. The other is that he took the extraordinary 
course of completely ignoring the vital considerations set 
forth at great length in the telegram of August 10. He 
made not the slightest allusion to the new department, or 
to Lord Kitchener's proposals concerning its limitations. 
He said he had laid the views contained in the telegram of 
August 10 before the Cabinet, and reiterated his former 
general statements and his objection to General Barrow, 
adding that the Government apprehended " no difficulty in 
arriving at a thoroughly workable conclusion." There was 
evidently a good deal of unconscious truth in the Prime 
Minister's statement that the Government were " unable to 
understand " the Viceroy's position. 

On August 12 Lord Curzon finally took the only course 
which, as I conceive it, was left open to him, He tele- 
graphed to the Secretary of State that the main question 
was not one of the choice of an individual, but of the 
principles underlying the change in the Indian Adminis- 
tration. He had repeatedly pressed for a clear intimation 
of the views of the Government, but had failed to receive 
either the information or the assurance which he sought. 
He continued : 

" I am reluctantly driven to the conclusion that the 
policy of His Majesty's Government differs fundamentally 
from what I thought had been agreed upon with the 
Government of India, and is based upon principles which I 
could not conscientiously carry into execution. In these 
circumstances my ability to act with advantage as head of 

445 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the Indian Government has ceased to exist, and I beg you 
again to place my resignation in Prime Minister's hands. 
In interests of new organisation, which I am now powerless 
to introduce, it is desirable that I should be relieved of my 
duties with as little delay as possible." 

Mr. Balfour sent to the Viceroy on August 16 a tele- 
gram, manifestly written with the deepest sorrow, in which 
he said : 

" We hoped that principles underlying proposed change 
in Military Administration had been made clear in despatch 
of May 31, as well as in other communications ; that no 
assurances were required to prove the desire of His Majesty's 
Government to give you all the support necessary to carry 
this change into effect ; and that in any case assurances had 
been explicitly given. 

*' But if after all that has passed you still reiterate your 
request to be relieved of your office, I know not how to 
combat further what I take to be a fixed resolve, and have, 
therefore, with the profoundest regrets, communicated your 
wishes to the King. — A. J. Balfour." 

The Viceroy's resignation was announced in India on 
the night of August 20. 

I have felt constrained, in dealing with the episode which 
began with the suggestion of the name of General Barrow, 
to adhere scrupulously to the telegrams published in the 
Parliamentary paper, and to base the few comments I have 
made solely upon the contents of those telegrams. It must 
be manifest that they do not tell the whole story, and that 
the attitude and motives, not only of Lord Curzon, but also 
of the other persons concerned, are left in some obscurity. 
Much remains unexplained ; for instance, the misunder- 
standing about Lord Kitchener's original concurrence re- 
garding the nomination of General Barrow. Yet I think 
the narrative should end there, even at the risk of further 
misconception, for it is impossible to discuss the matter in 

446 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

greater detail without incurring the danger of reawakening 
disputation, which it is my chief purpose to avoid. I will 
only note that the abrupt suggestion contained in the 
Secretary of State's telegram of August 4 that the Viceroy 
should " consult Lord Kitchener " was severely commented 
upon in India, though afterwards defended by the Prime 
Minister. 

For the same reason, the remaining incidents will be 
dismissed in the fewest possible words. Mr. Brodrick sent 
to the Viceroy on August 16 a long telegram expressing 
regret at his resignation. In the chapter on " The Two 
Bengals " I have already mentioned the only passage in that 
telegram on which I intend to comment. Lord Kitchener 
dissented from the definition of his proposals regarding the 
new department contained in the Viceroy's telegram of 
August 10. He wrote a memorandum on the subject, to 
which Lord Curzon replied. The Viceroy's Note was more 
than an answer ; it was an absolute demolition, for almost 
without comment he substantiated every statement he had 
made by quotation from the Commander-in-Chief's own 
papers. Lord Kitchener pressed for publication of his 
memorandum without being aware of the nature of the 
Viceroy's reply. Lord Curzon demurred, but referred Lord 
Kitchener's request to the Secretary of State, who authorised 
publication. The result of the appearance of the papers was 
that public opinion in India, already greatly in favour of the 
Viceroy, was immensely strengthened ; but a cruel additional 
consequence was that the English Press, in ignorance that 
the papers were issued upon Lord Kitchener's urgent solici- 
tation, condemned the Viceroy for continuing the controversy 
in public. 

Lord Curzon remained in India for three months after 
his resignation was announced, and did not sail until 
November 18, 1905. The reason why he stayed so long 
was that it was thought desirable that he should receive 
the Prince and Princess of Wales before his departure. In 

447 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

the meantime the tide of popular sympathy in India con- 
tinued spontaneously to rise in his support, until at the end 
it became overwhelming, At the farewell dinner at the 
Byculla Club, Bombay, on November 16, he said : 

" I need say but few words about my resignation or the 
causes that led to it. I desire only to mention one cause 
that did not. It seems to have been thought in some 
quarters at home that this was a personal quarrel, and that 
I resigned on personal grounds. No one who has the least 
acquaintance with the facts of the case, and I would fain 
hope no one who has any acquaintance with myself, could 
commit this error. The post of Viceroy of India is not one 
which any man fit to hold it would resign for any but the 
strongest reasons. When you remember that to me it was 
the dream of my childhood, the fulfilled ambition of my 
manhood, and my highest conception of duty to the State, 
when further you remember that I was filling it for the 
second time, a distinction which I valued much less for the 
compliment than for the opportunity afforded to me of 
completing the w^ork to which 1 had given all the best 
of my life, you may judge whether I should be likely heed- 
lessly or impulsiv^ely to lay it down. No, sir, there is not a 
man in this room who does not know that 1 resigned for a 
great principle, or rather for two great principles, firstly, the 
hitherto uncontested, the essential, and in the long run the 
indestructible subordination of military to civil authority in 
the administration of all well-conducted states, and, secondly, 
the payment of due and becoming regard to Indian authority 
in determining India's needs. I am making no vain boast 
when I say that in defending these principles as I have 
sought to do, and in sacrificing my position sooner than 
sacrifice them, I have behind me the whole of the Civil 
Services in India, the unanimous weight of non-official 
English opinion in this country, an overpowering pre- 
ponderance of Indian opinion, and I will add, which is 
more significant still, the support of the greater part of the 
Indian Army. 1 have not one word to say in derogation of 
those who may hold opposite views ; but, speaking for the 
last time as Viceroy of India, I am entitled to say why in a 

448 




^»^. 



■ ».:^yiA^^^. 






ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

few hours I shall cease to be Viceroy of India ; and I am 
also entitled to point out that, in speaking for the last time 
as Viceroy of the country which I have administered for 
nearly seven years, I am speaking, as I believe that no 
single one of my predecessors has ever been able to do to a 
similar extent, with the whole of that country behind me." 

There was not a word in that passage which was not 
strictly true. Lord Curzon had been defeated, but he left 
India with the honours of a conqueror. The reference to 
the Army was afterwards deprecated in some quarters, but 
no one, in India or in England, denied that it was com- 
pletely accurate at the time it was uttered. 

The new Viceroy and Lady Minto publicly bade farewell 
to Lord and Lady Curzon on November 18 on the Apollo 
Bunder at Bombay, the scene of so many historic wel- 
comes and leave-takings ; but the echoes of the guns which 
announced Lord Minto's arrival in Calcutta had scarcely 
died away when a telegram arrived from Mr. Brodrick 
directing him to prepare the new rules required for the 
impending change in Army Administration. It must have 
been one of the last messages Mr. Brodrick sent as 
Secretary of State for India ; for on December 4 Mr. Balfour 
tendered to the King the resignation of the Ministry. Mr. 
Brodrick departed from the India Office, and Mr. John 
Morley reigned in his stead. The situation thus produced 
was piquant. Mr. Morley was by instinct and predilection 
probably the very last man on either side of the House of 
Commons who was likely willingly to endorse any change 
savouring of the subversion of civil supremacy by the 
military authorities. Less than three months earlier, in 
addressing his constituents at Arbroath, he had expressed 
his opinion upon the Indian dispute in no measured terms, 
as follows : 

" Lord Curzon has been chased out of power by the 
military, and the Secretary of State has sanctioned that 

449 2 F 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

operation. If there is one principle more than another that 
has been accepted in this country since the day when 
Charles I. lost his head, it is this — that the civil power shall 
be supreme over the military power. That is what you will 
find in the India Office, that they have been guilty of this 
great dereliction, this great departure from those standard 
maxims of public administration which had been practically 
sacred in this island ever since the days of the Civil 
War." 

These were good Ironside sentiments, and the public in 
India and in England waited with much curiosity to see 
what Mr. Morley would do. 

Lord Minto telegraphed his proposed revision of rules on 
January 23, 1906. He was in complete accord with Lord 
Kitchener, for which he cannot be criticised, because he 
went to India fully understanding what he was to do. He 
had three supporters in his Council, the Commander-in- 
Chief, the new Supply Member (Major-General Scott), and 
the Finance Member (Mr., now Sir Edward, Baker). The 
four dissenting members were Sir Arundel Arundel, Sir 
Denzil Ibbetson, Sir Erie Richards, and Sir John Hewett. 
They had all signed the despatch of March 23, 1905, as had 
Mr. Baker also, though in the meantime Mr. Baker's views 
had undergone some modification. The opinion of the 
dissenting members was thus summarised : 

" They object to intended amalgamation of Army Head- 
quarters Staff with the Government of India's Secretariat. 
They hold strongly that, if the control of Government over 
the Army and its head is to be a reality, it is essential to 
keep the functions of the Commander-in-Chief as Executive 
Head of the Army entirely distinct from his functions as 
Member of Council in charge'^of Army Department, and 
entitled in that capacity to pass orders in the name and with 
the authority of the Government of India, and that the 
agencies through which these two distinct classes of 
^inctjons are respectively exercised should be kept separate," 

450 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

The dissenting members further objected to the position 
assigned to the Secretary in the Army Department, which 
differed from that of all other Secretaries to Government, 
because much of the business would only reach him after 
orders had been approved for signature. Lord Curzon had 
taken the same objection in his Note on Lord Kitchener's 
proposed rules, written after his resignation. He had said 
that the Secretary would be reduced to " a mere signing 
machine," and that the result would be to create a new 
type of Secretary to Government unknown in the Indian 
constitutional system, with inferior powers and responsi- 
bilities. 

It should be explained that Secretaries to Government 
are an important feature of the Indian system. Each 
department is in charge of a Member of Council, but at its 
head are one or more Secretaries, whose position corresponds 
roughly to that of the high permanent officials in England. 
Such business of the Department as goes to the Viceroy for 
approval is usually submitted personally by the Secretary, 
and not by the Member. If the Secretary differs on any 
point from his Minister, he has the right to state his views 
to the Viceroy at his weekly interview. Whether the 
Secretary avails himself of the privilege depends very much 
on his personal strength of character ; but the Secretary in 
the Army Department is a military officer, with special 
instincts of discipline, and I should say that it would take a 
very strong officer — lacking the prestige of a INIember of 
Council — to differ very much from the Commander-in-Chief, 
to whom he may be looking for further promotion. In this 
case the Secretary in the Army Department, as originally 
conceived, did not even possess the ordinary powers of a 
Secretary to Government. That was the reason of the 
protest of the dissenting members ; but it was only an 
incidental point, as was also the other point quoted ; and 
neither point had anything to do with the main issue of the 
original controversy 

451 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Mr. Morley disposed of the whole question in a despatch 
dated February 9, 1906. He said no more about King 
Charles's head, but accepted the general scheme of his pre- 
decessors, and authorised the creation of the phantom 
Department of Military Supply. The reason assigned was 
that the new Government did not think it wise to reopen 
the question, " at the risk of an indefinite prolongation of 
fruitless and injurious controversy." Mr. Morley made two 
important modifications to meet the views of the dissenting 
members. He insisted that the Secretary in the Army 
Department should have proper powers, and not be an 
automaton ; and he devised alterations in the rules which 
tended to limit the amalgamation of the Army Head- 
quarters Staff with the Government of India Secretariat. 
It was significant of the persistent failure of the English 
Press to understand the bearings of a highly technical ques- 
tion, that these modifications were promptly hailed by the 
newspapers of both parties as a master-stroke of com- 
promise, which had settled the whole controversy. They 
had nothing to do with the main issue. They did not affect 
the new Supply Department at all. They were wise and 
prudent, Mr. Morley is to be commended for having made 
them, and they still endure ; but they did not prevent the 
destruction of a constitutional system. 

Looking back, it is difficult to see how Mr. Morley and 
the new Cabinet could have come to any other decision. 
The real responsibility was not theirs. The question had 
been settled by their predecessors. Had they reopened the 
whole controversy, they would have been confronted at once 
with the resignation, not only of a Commander-in-Chief, but 
probably of a Viceroy also. While the embers of disputa- 
tion were still smouldering, it was easy to confront Mr. 
Morley with his own speeches, to quote his own books 
against him, to tell him in the words of one'of his own- most 
celebrated essays, as I fear I did, that he had allowed " the 
little prudences of the hour ... to obscure the persistent 

452 



ARMY REFORM AND LORD KITCHENER 

laws of things." Yet it is hardly possible to discern now 
how he could have done otherwise. That he chose his 
course very cheerfuUylappears improbable. The whole tone 
of his despatch seems to imply a certain reluctance. With- 
out the slightest knowledge on the subject, I prefer to 
believe that if Mr. Morley had entered the India Office a 
year earlier, this chapter of Indian history would never have 
been written. 

The sequel was precisely what had been foreseen. Three 
years later, in March 1909, the Supply Department was 
abolished, and the Supply Member vanished from the 
Viceroy's Council. The very situation which Mr. Brodrick s 
own committee had said would be " opposed to all modern 
principles in regard to armies" had been evolved. Lord 
Kitchener remained the sole representative of the military 
authorities, and Lord Curzon's predictions were verified. It 
is no answer to say that the revolutionary results anticipated 
have not come to pass. The pathway to mischief has been 
made. The military system of India is no longer controlled 
upon a constitutional basis. When we get a combination 
of a headstrong Commander-in-Chief and a weak and vacil- 
lating Viceroy, when India is plunged in the midst of war's 
alarms, as she may be some day, we shall have cause to rue 
the work of 1905. No one ever suggested that under Lord 
Kitchener the new system would not be worked with 
prudence ; Lord Curzon repeatedly disclaimed such an im- 
plication. The battle was fought to prevent the destruction 
of a normal constitutional system to meet the demands of a 
single exceptional individual. 

It will be an evil day for England if such a battle is ever 
fought and won within these shores. 



453 



XIII 

UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

The question of unrest in India brings into view an issue 
directly connected with the subject dealt with at the close of 
the preceding chapter. I have reserved it for separate 
treatment in order to avoid confusion. The position created 
by the settlement of the military question has been discussed 
chiefly in relation to a possible external war ; but far more 
was really at stake. India has been plunged into fierce 
internal strife during our rule ; we hope such an event may 
never recur, but we cannot feel entirely confident that there 
may not again be trouble, at some distant date, within our 
Indian Empire. Should India ever see another red dawn, we 
may have further cause to regret that we have deliberately, 
and by our own act, subverted the wholesome principle of 
complete civil supremacy in the Indian Administration. It 
was not alone the band of heroes clinging tenaciously to the 
little Ridge at Delhi who saved our Indian Empire. Far 
more than to their gallant deeds, we owe its final salvation, 
under Providence, to the strong and steadfast clemency of 
Canning. Even should India lapse once more into tumult, 
the basis of its Administration should continue to be civil, or 
we may never save British rule. It was of these things that 
we were thinking in India during that distressing summer 
when our countrymen in England saw nothing but the 
conflict between two determined men, the one uncom- 
promising, the other tenacious. It was no foolish jealousy 
of a distinguished soldier which prompted the opposition his 

454 



UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

proposals encountered ; it was the consciousness that vital 
constitutional principles, of which he was oblivious, were at 
stake, and required defence until the last possible blow 
could be struck. 

I thrust aside all technicalities, all the misleading talk of 
possible safeguards, and state that the decision of the Home 
Government gave an unconstitutional bias to the Indian 
Administration from which it will not recover until amend- 
ment is made. Powers which exist are certain to make 
themselves felt, even if they are not definitely used, and 
purely military opinion is liable to come to count too much 
in the framing of Indian policy. The question slumbers 
now ; the powers are in abeyance. One reason is that the 
present Cabinet, whatever its faults may be, can be trusted 
to prevent any undue exercise of military influence in India. 
But Ministries change, and we may not always have a 
Government so prudent in this respect; administrators of 
India change, and we may not always have a Viceroy and a 
Commander-in-Chief so cautious in the exercise of their 
respective functions as the present holders of those offices ; 
and meanwhile the dangerous principle of exalting the 
military power at the expense of the civil authorities has 
been accepted and is at work. 

I fear that what I write regarding this matter will fall 
upon deaf ears. It is almost impossible to obtain a fair 
hearing in England to-day upon an Indian question which 
is of fundamental importance. The public either profess 
weariness of an issue which they are unwiUing to investigate, 
or they ascribe vulgar personal predilections or personal 
antipathies, or — and this is by far the most common and the 
most dangerous attitude — they reveal a completely wrong 
conception of the basis upon which the Indian Empire is 
founded. The last-named defect of thought is visible in 
every grade of society, from the highest to the lowest. 
England is bemused with the drugs of a sham Imperialism. 
The popular tendency is to contemplate India from the 

455 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

point of view of a sergeant-major. Many of the ablest men 
among us, when they think of India at all, think of it as an 
Empire which we are holding by bayonets rather than by 
the merits of our rule. Yet never before in the world's 
history have 75,000 white troops essayed the almost incre- 
dible task of keeping in check over 300,000,000 of people ; 
and they do not do it by bayonets alone, as so many in 
England have unwisely come to beUeve. 

It was not in pursuance of this mock and arrogant 
Imperialism that Lord Curzon toiled in India, that Lord 
Milner fought his lonely fight in South Africa, that Lord 
Cromer built a new Egypt out of the remnants of the old. 
They were quick to strike where necessary, alert to repress 
disorder, strong to guard their gi-eat charges, but they did 
not work to the sound of kettledrums. They were Impe- 
rialists, it is true, but theirs was another and a finer 
Imperialism, which had for its object the creation of great 
nations upon firm and endurmg foundations, the uplifting 
of myriads to a happier and a nobler level, the spread of 
justice and liberty, the evolution of a loftier manhood. 
They caught glimpses of a vision which was hidden from 
most of their countrymen at home. They laboured, not 
in pride, but in humility. For the pride that boasted of 
Empire but forgot its true basis, for the kettledrum pride, 
one had to turn to England. 

The greatest danger to the Indian Empire to-day hes 
not in India, but in the debased Imperialism which has 
obtained an unhappy vogue in this country. It finds its 
chief expression in views about India. The thought that 
won widespread sympathy for Lord Kitchener, and secured 
for him support in quarters where the real issue was dis- 
regarded, was the thought defined by the statement that he 
would " show these people we mean business." It was a 
thought that did great injustice to his character, as his 
future work in Egypt will probably reveal ; for he knows 
Orientals thoroughly, and is liked by them, and he has done 

456 



UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

other things in his life besides watching the dawn of Arma- 
geddon from a hill-side before Omdurman. When protests 
were raised against the proposal that Lord Kitchener should 
be sent back to India as Viceroy, no personal implication 
was involved ; the protests were made against the popular 
theory that it was necessary to send him back in jack-boots. 
Until the British pubHc realise that India has reached a 
stage of development when it can no longer be dragooned 
into blind obedience, we shall never see a proper compre- 
hension of Indian problems. When trouble comes, if it 
ever does come, it is not the Anglo-Indians who will require 
restraining ; the difficulty will be to soothe popular opinion 
and to restrain the clamour for premature reprisals in 
England. 

It is these considerations which make it so difficult for 
one who has lived long in India to write about unrest for 
English readers. Writer and readers approach the subject from 
two entirely different standpoints. When those who think as 
I do have written about the inactivity of the Government in 
recent years, it is not troops or bayonets that we have had 
in mind. We have written of the paralysis of the civil 
power, of the inefficiency of the administration of justice, 
of the reluctance to deal by civil process with the forces of 
anarchy and disorder. AVe do not call for " martial law and 
no damned nonsense " ; that is the kind of thing one hears 
in England ; we urge the prompt and inflexible exercise of 
the civil law. When we condemn the Home Government 
for binding in chains the hands of the executive in India, we 
do not want to see guns trained upon Poona or Calcutta ; 
we want to prevent the results which we know will flow 
from an unwillingness to deal firmly with crime in an Oriental 
country. During all the troubled period from which India 
has now emerged, the great Anglo-Indian newspapers, the 
Pioneer and the Statesman, the Times of India and the 
3Iad?^as Mail, remained perfectly calm. The bulk of the 
Anglo-Indian Press — there may have been one or two 

457 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

unfortunate exceptions — neither published inflammatory 
articles nor called for undue and invidious reprisals. It 
would have been well if their attitude had been emulated 
elsewhere. 

When I first designed this book, it was my intention to 
enter at length into the origin of Indian unrest ; but I am 
spared that necessity by the exhaustive analysis published 
in 1910 by Mr. Valentine Chirol, with whose conclusions I 
am in general agreement. The only difference I would 
express is that while endorsing his exposition of local con- 
ditions, I think larger stress should have been laid upon the 
general revolt against European domination, against the 
whole impact of Western civilisation, which was and is 
visible throughout Asia. That revolt had a reflex influence 
upon India, and incidentally brought to a head maleficent 
intrigues which had been long at work. Again, I should 
perhaps be inclined to state the case against Brahminism 
rather differently. Brahmins were only in the front of the 
movement against British control because from time im- 
memorial they have been the intellectuals of India, and 
some among them were bound to become the leaders in a 
propaganda which, whatever we may think of it, was directed 
by brains. What distinguishes the Indian movement from 
similar movements in other countries was that in India the 
brains were in the background. 

That Anarchism has disappeared from India cannot be 
expected, but I think there is good reason to believe that 
its power has been for the present broken. I have seen too 
many prophecies fail in the last few years to indulge in the 
risks of political vaticination ; but T will quote from a speech 
made by Mr. Gokhale in the Imperial Council on March 20, 
1911. He was speaking directly after certain political 
murders had occurred, and said : 

" My Lord, let not the Government be influenced too much 
by the latest outrages. They are like the dying embers of a 

458 



UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

fire that is going out. A number of young men came under 
unfortunate influences under circumstances upon which I 
will not dwell, and the responsibility for which must be shared 
equally between the Government and the people. There is 
much truth in the adage that it takes two to make a quarrel. 
I am not, however, going into that ; I only want to say that 
for three or four years a wave of wild teaching passed over 
the land, and under the influence of that teaching a number 
of youths completely lost their heads and committed them- 
selves to courses of conduct from which retreat was not easy. 
I think it is some of these men who are still responsible for 
these outrages. There may be a few more outrages in the 
near future — no one can say — but no new additions to the 
ranks of these men are taking place ; the supplies have been 
cut off; and I feel quite sure that the situation will now 
grow better and better every day until at last only the 
memory of these times is left." 

With some misgivings, I can only hope that Mr. 
Gokhale's estimate of the position is correct. The wave may 
have spent itself, but the duty of the Government remains 
unabated. Only by unceasing vigilance, and by the swift 
exercise of their powers upon occasion, can they check the 
reappearance of tendencies which loyal Indians regard with 
just abhorrence. 

I assume it is not necessary to defend Lord Curzon 
from the charge of having contributed to bring about the 
appearance of Anarchism in India, though I believe there 
was a time when he was even credited with having in some 
undiscernible manner impelled the mild Hindu to start 
making bombs. The secret history of the Anarchist move- 
ment is now tolerably well known to the authorities ; and 
the people who brought these wild charges had probably 
never heard of the assassination of the Dravids, the informers 
against Chapekar, the Poona murderer, in days when Lord 
Curzon was still a member of the House of Commons. 
I am not even sure that it is worth while to deal with the 
more frequent accusation that he was responsible for the 

459 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

larger phenomena of unrest, as distinguished from Anarchism, 
which have disturbed India during the last few years. In 
being called upon to face such a charge, and to endure all 
the virulent attacks and the heated misrepresentation which 
have flowed from it, he has only had to share the common 
lot of nearly every administrator who serves a European 
country overseas. If he had not foreseen that, like many of 
his predecessors, he must pass through that particular vale 
of tribulation, he would have studied history to little profit. 

The three greatest Colonial Empires have been those of 
England, France, and Spain, and all three have treated the 
men who have carried and upheld their flag in distant lands 
with singular ingratitude. None has ofl'ended worse than 
England, which delights in splendid verse of Empire, and 
forgets the men who made it possible. Every statesman 
who goes to India or South Africa goes at the risk of his 
reputation and his happiness. The men who stay at home 
risk nothing but periodical worry ; their worst mistakes are 
condoned ; but the men who fare forth across the seas risk 
all. If they do nothing at all, they may perhaps count upon 
applause and effusive commonplaces on their return ; if 
they strive manfully to fulfil their appointed task, they are 
almost certain to encounter at some stage or other the 
bitterest hostility. It is a topic curious enough to make 
one pause and look backward for one brief moment. 

All through the centuries the story is the same. History 
contains few more touching pictures than that of Columbus 
dying in poverty in the inn at Valladolid, after vainly 
pleading with his ungrateful king for a restitution of his 
rights and dignities. Cortez, the conqueror of Mexico, 
came back from the Pacific to die with the unmerited 
affronts of the monarch for whom he had won vast provinces 
still ringing in his ear. Dupleix, who sought to win India 
for France, wrote only three days before his death in the 
utmost indigence : " I have sacrificed my youth, my fortune, 
my life, to enrich my nation in Asia. . . . My services are 

460 



UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

regarded as fables, my demand is denounced as ridiculous, 
I am treated as the vilest of mankind." La Bourdonnais, 
the founder of French power in the Isle of France, was re- 
warded for his zeal by a long imprisonment which broke his 
heart. Lally, the splendid soldier who endeavoured to 
retrieve the fallen fortunes of France in India, was dragged 
through the streets of Paris in a dung-cart to the scaffold. 
Jules Ferry, who conceived the idea of a new French 
colonial empire, was, in the words of M. Etienne, " treated 
as a public malefactor, and in spite of the service he rendered 
to his country, he lost his popularity, his tranquillity, and 
almost his life." The history of England has been equally 
full of instances of unrequited services ever since the days 
when Raleigh came back from the Orinoco to die by the 
headsman's axe. Clive, called upon to defend himself like 
a criminal ; Hastings, ruined in fortune by an unfair trial 
lasting for years ; Stamford Raffles, hampered throughout 
his career by unworthy opposition ; Dalhousie, dying in 
proud silence beneath a black cloud of calumny which has 
only been removed after a lapse of fifty years ; Canning, 
whose work was so little understood that his name was very 
nearly excluded from the vote of thanks to the Indian 
Services offered by Parliament after the Mutiny ; Bartle 
Frere, sacrificed to the requirements of political expediency ; 
so the long tale goes on. Even Waterloo did not protect 
the windows of the Duke of Wellington. 

Lord Curzon was happily spared the mournful fate of 
some earlier proconsuls, but although we do not cut off the 
heads of our overseas statesmen nowadays, or impeach them 
by way of acknowledgment, we are still far too ready to 
think the worst of them instead of the best. Because after 
Lord Curzon's departure from India there was a widespread 
manifestation of unrest, many of his countrymen jumped to 
the conclusion that for the symptoms of disturbance he must 
be held responsible. The real causes of unrest in India — I 
am not now alluding to Anarchism — had no more connection 

461 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

with the Viceroyalty of Lord Curzon than they had with 
the moon. They sprang from that quickening of new 
aspirations which swept throughout Asia as a result of the 
victories of Japan ; and on their better side Lord JNIinto was 
quite justified in considering them to be healthy. Their 
more violent and ebullient side was another matter, to be 
dealt with as the law directs. 

I have shown that for the first few years of his Vice- 
royalty Lord Curzon enjoyed a popularity such as few 
Viceroys have ever known. Two minor incidents which 
caused some excitement, the Official Secrets Act and a 
homily on truth delivered in the Calcutta Convocation, 
hardly require discussion. The one was a routine measure 
which has never, so far as I am aware, adversely affected a 
single Indian journalist ; the other was a speech which was 
possibly injudicious in its choice of a subject, though certainly 
not in its method of treatment. No one can read it now 
without smiling at the thought that it could ever have 
created any hubbub. Neither of these incidents, which are 
probably almost forgotten, could have produced either 
boycotts or mass meetings in Beadon Square. 

The two larger episodes which aroused agitation were 
the Universities Act and the partition of Bengal, and I have 
already named them as two of the greatest and most bene- 
ficent achievements of Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty. I have 
never known any agitation quite so absurd as the agitation 
against the partition of Bengal. It was almost as ridiculous 
as the outburst of the English populace when the calendar 
was reformed, and the cry went up, " Give us back our 
eleven days ! " Except among the vested interests which 
considered themselves menaced, it was never more than a 
pretext, and any other pretext would have served just as 
well. For the rest, it was the outcome of the suddenly 
conceived desire to create a Bengali " nation," of the hostility 
to the Universities Act, of the search for a vent for the 
excitement engendered by the conflict in the Far East, of 

462 



UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

that craving for passionate controversy which periodically 
afflicts Bengal far more than any province in India. Few 
cared about the actual partition itself. The very agitators 
who once led excited mobs through the streets of Calcutta 
are now on the verge of pronouncing benedictions upon it, 
though I do not doubt that their confession of faith will be 
immediately preceded by vehement protestations on the 
other side of the controversy, as is their habit. The subject 
may well be dismissed, as it has been discreetly dismissed in 
India. 

I prefer to recall, by way of comparison, a demonstration 
which occurred in Calcutta in March 1905, on Lady 
Curzon's return from England after her serious illness. It 
was months after the agitation against partition had begun. 
The \^iceregal train broke down while crossing India, and 
knowing the generous reception that was awaiting them, 
the Viceroy and Lady Curzon raced to the capital with an 
engine and a single carriage, at sixty miles an hour, rather 
than disappoint the populace. The Calcutta Corporation 
met them at the railway station, and presented Lady 
Curzon with a valuable jewel subscribed for by the members. 
HoA^Tah Bridge and the streets of the city had been 
voluntarily decorated by a Bengali committee. There were 
no regular troops, by the V^iceroy's special order, though the 
Calcutta Light Horse Volunteers insisted on turning out in 
full strength to furnish an escort. The whole of the route 
was packed w^ith dense crowds, the cheering was continuous, 
and Lady Curzon drove to Government House amid 
acclamations such as had never then been accorded to any 
woman in India. Hundreds of the ladies of Calcutta were 
awaiting her in the Throne Room, and presented her with 
a costly carved ivory casket and address. One of the local 
newspapers said that it was " the occasion of a spontaneous 
outburst of enthusiasm on the part of the population of 
Calcutta, such as we never remember to have witnessed 
before." Such was India, in the very year of Lord Curzon's 

463 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

departure ; warm-hearted, emotional, a land full of contra- 
dictions, with a people normally reserved, but given equally 
to outbursts of the strongest enthusiasm and the most 
exaggerated condemnation. Lord Curzon said on landing 
for the second time : " There is warmth of heart in India 
as great and life-giving as there is of sky." Nowhere is the 
quality more manifest than in Bengal ; and memories such 
as I have quoted remain fragrant and precious when all the 
riots and the boycotts are forgotten. 

The subject of Lord Curzon's supposed connection with 
the appearance of unrest in India is not one upon which 
I care to dwell further. Even his own countrymen, some 
among whom were quick to give ear to the voice of slander 
on his return, have now come to realise the injustice that 
has been done. I will recapitulate in a few sentences all 
I have said on the point. The Universities Act aroused 
deep hostility ; the partition of Bengal was made the pretext 
for wild agitation ; but both were justifiable and necessary 
measures. The very firmness of Lord Curzon's control, his 
vigorous work in strengthening the foundations of British 
supremacy, may possibly have tended, as I said in my 
opening chapter, to stimulate that irreconcilable residuum 
of the Indian peoples which desires our departure ; though 
personally I doubt whether the influence of his labours at 
all accelerated a movement which was secretly in existence 
long before he became Viceroy. But though the measures 
I have mentioned were made the objects of persistent and 
even violent opposition, they had no more to do with the 
general appearance of unrest in India than had the creation 
of the North- West Frontier Province. Other provinces 
cared nothing about the partition. The general unrest was 
due to causes which may be described as continental. The 
best refutation, already explained, is that in the controversy 
about military administration at the end of his V^iceroyalty, 
Lord Curzon carried the whole country with him. 

It has often been complained against Lord Curzon that 

464 



UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

while he instilled new strength into British rule, he did 
nothing to satisfy the aspirations of Indians for a larger share 
in the control of their own affairs. The complaint is quite 
legitimate, and is entitled to an answer. The particular 
work which Lord Curzon went to India to do did not include 
an enlargement of liberties, such as has now been granted. 
It was a work which presented many more difficulties than 
he had anticipated ; he undertook many reforms which he 
had never originally contemplated ; and during the whole of 
his second period of office he was intermittently engaged in 
a serious conflict which could not have been foreseen. Had 
he been able to complete the full term he had projected, had 
his pathway been peaceful towards the end, it is my belief, 
and that of men who were intimately associated with his 
Viceroyalty, that he would have come to realise the 
desirability of rounding off his labours by some substantial 
concession to the aspirations of educated Indians. It would 
have been the natural and proper coping-stone of his work. 
He was a Viceroy who was intensely conscious of external 
opinion. He might not always follow it, but no man was 
more ready to listen to external views. I could name 
instance after instance where his proposals were modified out 
of deference to popular sentiment and unofficial desires. 
Though he never seems to have seriously contemplated 
any concessions of the kind I have named, I think he would 
have done so had he completed his full term, had his second 
period been less stormy, and had he been less preoccupied. 
The times were ripe for such an advance, and he was always 
quick to note the trend of popular feeling. 

Just as it fell to Lord Curzon's lot to reap where Lord 
Lansdowne had sown, and Lord Elgin had watched and 
waited, so it fell to the lot of Lord 3Iorley and Lord ^linto 
to complete the work Lord Curzon had perforce left undone. 
Their series of reforms did not represent a reaction from the 
spirit of Lord Curzon's Viceroyalty ; they were its natural 
and inevitable complement. There was no spirit of essential 

465 2 G 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

antagonism between the two Administrations ; there was no 
broad feature of Lord Curzon's policy which Lord Minto 
did not accept and carry forward, with the full approval of 
Lord Morley ; but they added the one ingredient necessary 
to make the work of I^ord Curzon finally acceptable to the 
people. 

On the whole, it was a fortunate chance which brought 
Lord JNlorley to the India Office at that particular juncture. 
With several aspects of his policy I am unable to agree, and 
have said so in due season ; but happily, for my present 
purpose, it is only necessary to dwell upon matters which 
do not admit of difference. Lord Morley did for the India 
Office what Mr. Chamberlain did for the Colonial Office ; he 
showed that to be at the head of so great a department was 
no unworthy crowning of a statesman's career. Unusual 
qualifications were needed to discern aright the remedies 
required by the Indian situation in 1906 ; and Lord Morley 
brought to the task the broad and sympathetic perceptions, 
the keen intuitive insight, which in his legislative capacity 
were imperative to success. For five years India had the 
benefit of the guardianship and direction of one who added to 
the ripe wisdom of the statesman the profound knowledge 
of the scholar, and the warmest sympathy with human 
striving after progress ; and when Lord Morley left the 
India Office the verdict of supporter and opponent alike 
was that he had been the greatest Indian Secretary of State 
of modern times. The advent into Indian affairs of such a 
dominant personality, with so exceptional a reputation, 
necessarily tended, although to some extent involuntarily, 
to overshadow the Viceroy. Lord Minto did not display, 
and was not expected to display, the intense activity which 
Lord Curzon had exercised throughout his Administration ; 
but he had two qualities which were of inestimable service 
during a very troubled period. Upon all the problems 
which came before him he brought to bear shrewd and 
penetrating common sense, much practical experience, and a 

466 



UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

certain immovable strength of will ; and during years which 
would have severely tried the nerves of a weaker man, he 
showed an incomparable calmness which no untoward event 
could disturb. 

That Lord Minto came to quite independent conclusions 
about the necessity for some enlargement of liberties, and 
that he pointed them out very early in his Viceroyalty, is 
now common knowledge ; that he worked loyally to make 
the scheme a success, and refused to abandon it when con- 
fronted by sinister occurrences, are facts equally well known ; 
but that the larger inspiration, the broader conception, the 
final shaping, the tenacious adherence in the face of much 
criticism, were all chiefly the work of Lord Morley, is too 
obvious to need emphasis. 

For the purpose of record, the reforms may be briefly 
summarised. They were divided into two sections, one 
relating to the Executive Councils, and the other to the 
Legislative Councils. The innovations regarding Executive 
Councils were : 

(1) The appointment of an Indian member of the 
Viceroy's Executive Council. 

(2) The appointment of one Indian member to the 
Executive Councils of the Governors of Madras and 
Bombay. 

(3) The provision of powers to constitute an Executive 
Council for the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, the pre- 
sumption being that one member of such Council would be 
an Indian. 

(4) The provision of powers to create Executive 
Councils for the Lieutenant-Governors of other provinces, 
though in these cases the proposal must first be laid before 
Parliament for sixty days. 

(5) To these reforms may be added the appointment of 
two Indians to the Council of the Secretary of State, 
commonly known as the India Council. 

These were all fundamental changes, for they admitted 

467 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Indians to the highest executive appointments, and gave 
them access to the most secret and vital dehberations of the 
Administration, from which they had been hitherto excluded. 
The changes in the Legislative Councils were : 

The Imperial Legislative Council was increased from 
twenty-one to a maximum of sixty. 

The INladras and Bombay Legislative Councils were 
increased from twenty-four to a maximum of fifty. 

The Bengal Legislative Council was increased from 
twenty to fifty, and the Councils of the United Provinces 
and of Eastern Bengal from sixteen to fifty. 

The Punjab Legislative Council was increased from 
eight to thirty. 

The Burma Legislative Council was increased from ten 
to thirty. 

Taken as a whole, the Councils now include no fewer 
than 135 elected members, as against thirty-nine under the 
old Act. Their total maximum strength is now 370, as 
against 139 formerly. By a reasonable compromise, and by 
the adoption of varying expedients in different provinces, 
the jNIahomedans have been given an adequate share of 
representation upon all the Councils. In the Imperial 
Council the official majority was retained at the instance of 
Lord JNIorley, though Lord INIinto was willing to abandon 
it ; but in the Provincial Councils the official majority was 
not preserved. In practice the non-official members do not 
necessarily vote against the Government upon crucial ques- 
tions, and the support of Europeans and the more moderate 
Indian members can frequently be reckoned upon. The 
President of each Council retains the right of veto, and 
behind lies the veto of the Viceroy. The privileges of non- 
official members have also been greatly enlarged, and the 
rules of procedure very much modified. They can exercise 
a greater influence in the early stages of Budgets, the right 
of interpellation has been strengthened, facilities for the 
fuller and freer discussion of public policy have been pro- 

468 



UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

vided, and the privilege of introducing resolutions and Bills 
(under sanction) has been conferred upon private members. 

Though the appointment of Indian members to Execu- 
tive Councils was strongly opposed, there was never any 
strenuous opposition to the enlargement either of the 
Imperial or the Provincial Legislative Councils. It was 
never contemplated by Lord Lansdowne, who in 1892 
introduced a larger non-elective element into the Councils, 
recognised the elective principle, and conferred the right of 
interpellation, that the reforms he carried should be regarded 
as at all final in character. The time had come when some 
measure of extension could with safety be introduced, and it 
was being urgently claimed. The late King-Emperor, in his 
Proclamation of 1908, wisely said that "the politic satisfac- 
tion of such a claim will strengthen, not impair, existing 
authority and power." 

The enlargement of the Councils is probably the feature 
of the reforms which at present is most appreciated in India. 
The new bodies have been a great success, and the debates 
in the Imperial Council are already not unworthy of older 
and more famous assemblies. The reforms are certainly no 
more final than were those of 1892, and in due course there 
will doubtless be further developments. INIean while the loyal 
Indian communities have the satisfaction of knowing that 
they can at least make their voices audibly and efil^ectively 
heard. The real tests of the reforms have still to come. 
They will come in the Imperial Council when the Indian 
members demand, as they have a right to do, that they shall 
have some voice in settling the fiscal policy of India ; they 
will come in the Executive Councils when a popular demand 
arises that the Indian appointments shall be filled, not by 
quiet *' safe " men, but by prominent politicians who will 
claim their share of executive authority. That day has not 
yet arrived, and in any case I am not at all sure that men of 
the stamp of Mr. Gokhale will not feel that for many years 
to come they will be serving their country better from an 

469 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

independent seat in the Council than from an executive 
chair. 

One other aspect of the reforms requires comment. They 
rightly satisfy the aspirations of the intellectuals and the 
men of property, but they leave the bulk of the people 
practically untouched. Lord Curzon concisely expressed 
the point in the House of Lords on February 23, 1909, 
when he said : 

" I vv^onder how these changes will, in the last resort, 
affect the great mass of the people of India — the people who 
have no vote and who have scarcely a voice ? Remember 
that to these people, w4io form the bulk of the population 
of India, representative government and electoral institu- 
tions are nothing whatever. . . . The good government that 
appeals to them is the government which protects them from 
the rapacious money-lender and landlord, from the local 
vakiU and all the other sharks in human disguise which prey 
upon these unhappy people. I have a misgiving that this 
class will not fare much better under these changes than 
they do now. At any rate I see no place for them in these 
enlarged Councils which are to be created, and I am under 
the strong opinion that as government in India becomes more 
and more Parliamentary — as will be the inevitable result — 
so it will become less paternal and less beneficent to the 
poorer classes of the population." 

I cannot leave the subject of unrest and the remedies 
adopted without mentioning the pernicious practice of 
government from hill-stations, which is one of the greatest 
hindrances to the success of British rule in India. I believe 
it to be bad in principle, and to be responsible to a very con- 
siderable extent for such loss of grip as is visible in the 
Indian Administration. If Calcutta had been under the 
restraining influence of a resident Government, the city 
would never have got so far out of hand as it did a few years 
ago. One of the few things wdiich reconciles me to the 
continuance of the autocratic control of a Secretary of State 

470 



UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

is the knowledge that this grave problem will never be 
settled until it is tackled from Whitehall. Not a single 
administrator in India will ever touch it. From the youngest 
civilian and the most newly arrived Governor to the retiring 
member of Council, all unite solidly in defence of the migra- 
tion to the hills. It is extraordinary what an amount of 
heat can be generated in India at short notice by attacking 
the practice of spending many months of the year at hill- 
stations. Eminent civilians will listen unmoved to the 
strongest criticism of any feature of their administration ; 
say a Avord against hill -stations, and in a moment their hair 
bristles, and they are banging the table with their fists. 
Even Lord Curzon fell under the spell ; he was not certain 
that hill-stations were necessary for the Provincial Govern- 
ments, but he was quite sure that in the case of the Govern- 
ment of India, " foi' law, administration and the rest, Simla's 
best." Yet I have never met any man. Englishman or 
Indian, outside the Services, who did not declare that the 
hill-stations were largely to blame for the growing detach- 
ment of the British from the people of India. 

It ought to be possible to discuss the question without 
making unworthy imputations on either side. In the cities 
it is said that Government servants in the hills are engrossed 
by golf, and bridge, and picnics ; in the hills it is alleged that 
the business men in the cities waste half the afternoon 
gossiping in their clubs, and are always down listening to the 
band in time to catch the first cool breath of the evening 
breeze. Neither allegation is true. Business men in India 
have little time to loiter nowadays. Native competition 
grows keener every year, and the margin of profit is far 
smaller than it used to be. The clubs and restaurants of 
Calcutta and Bombay are emptied a very few minutes after 
lunch is over. Government servants in the hills work just 
as hard as, and perhaps in some cases a little harder than, 
they do in the plains. Only I am not so sure that it is 
always the right kind of work, or the most useful kind of 

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work ; and I am certain that it is often not the kind of work 
that brings them more closely into touch with the people of 
India and their needs. 

It is suggested that it is a good thing for men to break 
away sometimes from the innumerable petty distractions of 
big cities, and to sit down and think. So it is, but only in 
the case of individuals. The idea of a whole Government 
sitting down to think is a trifle unpractical, and in point of 
fact the spectacle of rows and rows of Secretaries with wet 
towels round their heads, pondering the problems of Empire, 
is not usually witnessed. INIany a man has defended hill- 
stations to me because, he has said, he can work there 
without interruption. That is precisely why he ought not 
to be there. If he is helping to rule India he must expect 
interruptions ; he is in India to be interrupted ; personal 
accessibility is a thing that Asiatics greatly prize, and the 
institution of hill-stations denies it to them. A very able 
administrator, and one of the most hard-working men in 
India, once told me that he chiefly valued his months of 
retreat at a hill-station because they enabled him to "go 
through his cases carefully." What he meant was that he 
practically shut himself up, and lived laborious nights and 
days, poring over masses of documents concerning important 
points of administration. When he emerged he would no 
doubt have penned able and conscientious and discerning 
minutes about every " case " ; but that is not governing 
India as it ought to be governed. Again, hill-stations are 
defended on the score of health ; but there can be no logical 
distinction between the kind of climate required for working 
in the Secretariat, and for administering a district. Another 
favourite argument is that the senior officers of Government 
have been so long in the country that they cannot endure 
the climate of the plains, but the obvious answer is that in 
that case the time for retirement has arrived. The frequent 
retort of Secretaries is that India does not chiefly consist of 
big cities, that the problems of India are largely rural, and 

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UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

that the attention of the Government should be mainly 
directed to " the ryot at the plough." And what do they 
see of the ryot at the plough at Simla, or Darjeeling, or 
Mahableshwar ? I have heard these and many other 
arguments for years, and have answers for them all. 

When the Councils were enlarged. Lord Minto said the 
Government ought to try and guide the new aspirations 
aright. It will never be done while every civilian aspires to 
be a Moses on a mountain-top. The time has come for the 
Governments to descend from the clouds and show them- 
selves to the multitude. As things are, the high officials 
swoop down on the various capitals for a brief period in the 
cold weather, live in their carpet-bags, are reluctantly 
dragged into a whirl of rather dull dinners and dances and 
receptions, and then vanish again, breathless and exhausted, 
but happy in the vain notion that they have been really " in 
touch with the people." The enlarged Councils are certainly 
supplying a valuable corrective ; but we shall never get " into 
touch " in India to the extent we ought to do until the hill- 
stations are abandoned to the invalids, the ladies, and the 
babies. 

One change which would facilitate a modification of 
the present system of government from the hills would be 
the abolition of the obsolete provision of the Act of 1793 
which prohibits the Viceroy, the Commander-in-Chief, and 
the Governors of Madras and Bombay from proceeding to 
Europe on leave of absence. The essential conservatism of 
England was strikingly illustrated in the solemn debate 
upon this subject in the House of Eords on March 17, 1908, 
when a whole series of grave and, in my belief, quite 
illusory reasons were adduced why the statute should not be 
abolished. I have always thought that particular debate 
worthy to be compared with a debate during, I think, the 
Stuart period, in the House of Commons, in which it was 
seriously declared (and possibly duly resolved, for I write 
without reference) that the building of a bridge across the 

473 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

Thames at Westminster would assuredly bring about the 
disruption of England. The enactment prohibiting Viceroys 
and others from proceeding to Europe was passed in the 
days of George III., and confirmed in the reign of 
William IV. ; it related to the age of sailing-ships, and not 
to the age of steam ; it became law at a time when the 
voyage to India occupied anything from a year to eighteen 
months ; and it was characteristic of a certain type of 
English procedure that many new and portentous reasons 
were discovered more than a century afterwards to prove 
that it should not be abandoned. 

The debate was initiated by Lord Lamington, who had 
recently relinquished the Governorship of Bombay. His 
case was particularly hard. Private reasons of an urgent 
character compelled his presence in England for two or three 
weeks. He could not obtain leave of absence, and was 
compelled to resign ; and thus the Presidency of Bombay 
was prematurely deprived of a Governor who was unusually 
popular with the people. I have never seen any Governor 
receive such an extraordinary ovation as was accorded to Lord 
Lamington when he went one night, without protection, into 
the heart of the native city on the occasion of a great 
religious festival. He only asked for eight weeks' leave, 
and his successor did not reach India until three months 
after his resignation. The provision prohibiting leave to 
Europe should be abolished, but I would still make it some- 
what exceptional for these exalted officers of State to obtain 
such leave. 

I wonder if I may, without offence, add a few words 
regarding the annual flood of visitors to India, which steadily 
increases. Year after year, as I sat in the Gate of India, 
the returning cool breezes wafted to our shores amiable and 
earnest gentlemen, of all ranks and callings, many of whom 
it became my duty and pleasure to receive. From them 
I learned with due meekness, on many occasions, that the 
wrong way to know a country was to live in it, and that 

474 



UNREST AND KINDRED QUESTIONS 

to the soaring vision of the visitor was vouchsafed Pisgah- 
sights denied to the humble toiler in the misty valleys. In 
JNlr. Ramsay INlacDonald's recent book on India I encoun- 
tered the following statement : 

" A shrewd observer, who will make numerous mistakes 
in describing details, will understand the general tendency 
of the sum total of Indian life more accurately than one who 
has lived so long in the country that he has ceased to see it 
except as a moving mass of detail." 

It may be so ; my gaze has certainly never been piercing 
enough to discern " the general tendency of the sum total 
of Indian life"; but I have often wondered what is the 
peculiar property in the Indian atmosphere which makes it 
so lucent to the visitor, and so opaque to the resident. No 
one dreams of saying these things about China, or South 
Africa, or America ; no one claims to have estimated " the 
sum total of French life " during a six weeks' trip to Paris 
and the Riviera ; the most confident of American writers 
never thinks of beginning his little book about England in 
this strain. However, if to have lived in a country is a 
disqualification for writing about it, I set it down to my 
disadvantage. I have been told that during his journey 
through the East Lord Rosebery, at a pubUc dinner, said 
with a twinkle that " he had been in India long enough to 
write a book, but not long enough to make a speech." The 
remark is still remembered in India. It is not surprising 
that Anglo-Indians turn with relief from ^Ir. MacDonald's 
preface to such prefaces as that with which M. Chailley 
opened his memorable book on Indian administrative prob- 
lems. He began thus : " The work I now give to the 
public is the fruit of twenty years of thought, and ten of 
actual labour." May others be as deliberate! 

Yet I should be unfair to JMr. IMacDonald if I did not 
add that his book is in many respects the best account of a 
short visit to India I ever remember to have read. . In a 

475 



INDIA UNDER CURZON AND AFTER 

brief time he accomplished much ; and if he Hstened to idle 
gossip about Lord Curzon and the partition of Bengal, at 
least his previous studies enabled him to grasp something of 
the real inwardness of the land revenue system, which few 
visitors care to investigate. His criticism on other points 
need not be examined here. All I wish to urge is that 
Englishm